13 December 2006

Alert

Three journalists assaulted in Parliament after taking photos of brawl between two legislators


Incident details

Mohammed Kissawani, Mohammed Al Rafayah, Usama Al Rifai

journalist(s)

assaulted

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(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned the behaviour of Jordanian legislators, who assaulted three press photographers during a parliamentary session on 11 December 2006 because they had just taken photos of a scuffle between two parliamentarians. The victims were Mohammed Kissawani, Mohammed Al Rafayah and Usama Al Rifai, who were working for the "Al Dustour", "Al Arab Al Youm" and "Al Ghad" daily newspapers.

"It is unacceptable that acts of violence against the press should be perpetrated inside parliament by those who are supposed to uphold the law and constitution," the press freedom organisation said. "We call on Jordan's politicians to behave in a manner appropriate to their position."

A scuffle broke out between Mohammed Adwan, the representative of Amman's 7th district, and Abed Thawabieh, the representative of Balqa's 2nd district, during a vote on parliamentary commissions. Three other parliamentarians, Mefleh Rheimi, Ghaleb Zubi'i and Hatem Sarayeh, intervened to separate them.

All five then turned on the journalists who had witnessed the incident, verbally attacking them. Finally, three of the journalists who were taking photos were physically attacked, Rafayah's camera was damaged, and Speaker Abdul Hali Majali ordered the confiscation of all the cameras.

Calling the incident an insult to the press, four Arabic-language dailies - "Al Dustour", "Al Arab Al Youm", "Al Ghad" and "Al Rai" - announced they would boycott all parliamentary activities until the three journalists who had been attacked were given an apology and their equipment was returned.

In a joint statement on the evening of 11 December, the newspapers described the attack as "unjustified" and said it had been "carried out by members of parliament who are supposed to guarantee democracy and the constitutionally-protected right of the press to cover subjects of interest to the public."

Thawabieh, one of the parliamentarians involved, told Reporters Without Borders it was an "isolated incident" that should not be seen as calling into question his respect for press freedom. At a meeting yesterday with the press union, the speaker of the House of Representatives apologised to the journalists who were attacked and promised to have the damaged camera repaired.



Source

Reporters Without Borders
47, rue Vivienne
75002 Paris, France
rsf (@) rsf.org


Fax:+33 1 45 23 11 51
Jordan
 
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