May 10, 2018 — To celebrate the annual World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), the UNESCO Amman office hosted a roundtable discussion, bringing together esteemed members of the judiciary, media and legal professionals and government representatives.
Under the global theme of “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law”, the event provided a forum for diverse actors to discuss the interplay between media, the judiciary and the rule of law, within the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The event marked an important year, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the celebration.
Ms. Costanza Farina, UNESCO Representative to Jordan opened the sessions, delivering welcoming remarks. “World Press Freedom Day serves to emphasize the importance of free and independent journalism for advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that Jordan, like all other countries of the world, endorsed in September 2015”.
Speaker Judge Ghazzi Al Heiwmel, Chief of Amman Court of First Instance, shared strategy of the Judicial Institute of Jordan to train judges and diploma students, stressing the importance of the cooperation with national and international institutions to expand the training programs on freedom of expression.
The discussion shifted to “Judicial trends in addressing media cases in 2017 and 2018”. Judge Amal Abu Ubaid of the Amman Court of First Instance discussed how the press and publication chamber, a specialized court room, has contributed to improved legal practices, which promotes freedom of the press.
Judge Al Tarawneh, Prosecutor of Amman, spoke about the role of the judiciary and the media in defending the values of justice, citizenship and freedom of expression, reaffirming the judiciary’s responsibility in the protection of all basic rights and freedom.
Ms. Kholoud Khatatbah, Journalist and Former Parliamentarian, spoke about the role of the media in supporting the independence of the judiciary. She recommended the importance of specialized judges in press and publication, as well as the standardization of media legislation.
Finally, Mr. Khalid Khlaifat, Media Lawyer, presented a draft impact assessment focused on challenges and opportunities of the Sida-funded capacity development activities, implemented by UNESCO for the Jordanian judiciary and focused on dealing with media issues.
In the closing session, His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Al-Momani, Minister of State for Media Affairs, interacted with participants as they presented roundtable recommendations. HE Dr. Momani stated, “Jordan has advanced in press freedom as a result of the strict application of the laws and media legislation,” pointing out that the independence of the judiciary is one of the critical foundations of the Jordanian state and its role in defending freedom and the values of society.
The recommendations included the importance of media coverage of public trials to bring public opinion cases into the spotlight and showcase the greater role of the judiciary in protecting the freedom of expression as well as the establishment of an advisory committee of judges and lawyers to analyze the best practices of the legal decisions and present the recommendations to support the drafting of the laws and amendments. The recommendations also included the importance of organizing exchanges and sharing experiences on the definition of privacy as well as supporting specialized media training for judges on media freedom and professional ethics.
His Excellency Mr. Erik Ullenhag, Ambassador of Sweden to Jordan joined roundtable and delivered remarks. He said, “Freedom of expression and freedom of the press have strengthened the judicial system, making it more effective”. . Since 2015, with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), UNESCO has been organizing a series of training workshops for lawyers, judges and media professionals, entitled “Legal Support to Media in Jordan”.
As in previous years, the World Press Freedom Day celebration in Amman was co-sponsored through the EU-funded “Support to Media in Jordan” project.
Also participating was Mr. Egidijus Navikas, representing the European Union. In his address, Mr. Navikas stated, “The European Union firmly believes in the power of the judiciary system in supporting freedom of expression”.
Every year since 1993, May 3rd marks the official day in which the world pauses to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
Over 100 World Press Freedom Day celebrations have been happening around the world. This year, UNESCO’s annual flagship event took place in Accra, Ghana.
For more information on World Press Freedom Day, please visit: https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/worldpressfreedomday?language=zh