On 25 September, Jordanian journalist and writer Nahid Hattar, was shot dead outside a court in Amman where he was standing trial in a criminal case for offending Islam and inciting sectarian strife. ARTICLE 19 condemns the killing and calls for a full and transparent investigation.
Hattar was detained on 13 August and held for 15 days on charges after the Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior initiated an investigation against him for sharing a satirical cartoon deemed offensive to Islam by the authorities on Facebook. Hattar stated that the cartoon was intended to be critical of the extremist group, ISIS. A person was detained at the scene, allegedly a local imam who had been offended by the cartoon.
“Attacks against journalists aimed at silencing them are the ultimate form of censorship and chill the free flow of information and ideas in society,” said Saloua Ghazouani, Director of ARTICLE 19 Tunisia Office.
Hattar’s family claimed that he had requested police protection but had not received any, despite receiving threats online and by phone. States have an obligation to take measures to prevent crimes against freedom of expression, particularly in situations where the authorities know or should have known of the existence of a real and immediate risk of such crimes.
“States should create the conditions where attacks on journalists and media workers do not take place in the first place. Rather than fostering such conditions, the Jordanian government prosecuted Hattar for his expression, contributing to an environment of heightened sensitivity;” she added.
ARTICLE 19 calls on the authorities in Jordan to:
- Initiate an independent, speedy and effective investigation and into the killing of Hattar, followed by prosecution of those responsible
- Carry out a full and transparent review of police procedures on protecting individuals who are likely to be targeted for what they say
- Refrain from prosecuting journalists for their expression