With further anti-government protests looming, Jordan said Friday that it was open to dissident opinions after Human Rights Watch accused authorities of persecuting political opponents and clamping down on gatherings.
Jordan insisted on Friday that freedom of expression is guaranteed in the kingdom, after Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the authorities of “stifling dissent.”
“Jordanians have the right to express their opinions without pressure or fear of reprisal,” Political Development Minister Musa Maayta said in a statement to local media.
He cited the recent wave of peaceful protests across the kingdom as an example of Jordanians’ capacity to openly criticise their government and its politics without fear of reprisal.
“Thousands of people demonstrated and there was not a single arrest made nor any police harassment,” he said. “It is strange that HRW thinks Jordan is oppressive.”
The New-York based rights organisation on Thursday accused the Jordanian authorities of curbing freedom of expression and called on them to allow dissent.
“Jordan should stop stifling dissent and allow Jordanians to voice their grievances freely,” HRW Middle East researcher Christoph Wilcke told reporters.
“King Abdullah rightly recognised the importance of hearing all voices to debates about Jordan’s future. Yet prosecutors time and time again initiate criminal proceedings against dissidents.”
Maayta said Jordan is working hard to enhance human rights.
“Political reform and strengthening human rights is an ongoing process,” he said.
“The government pays great attention to human rights reports about Jordan. But some reports depend on accounts by individuals without validating their credibility,” he added.
HRW said that last year, authorities prosecuted peaceful dissidents and prohibited peaceful gatherings to protest against government policies.
New protests are expected in Jordan on Friday after the main weekly prayers.