UNESCO strengthens legal support to media through specialized training for future judges

On 29 November, UNESCO Office in Amman ended a three-day training of 15 judges enrolled in the “Future Judges Program”. The training included sessions on international conventions, national regulations and laws, international standards, and mock court settings.

As an integral part of phase two of the overall activity “Legal Support to Media”, the training aimed at better acquainting young judges with media laws and the regulatory context in Jordan, with particular attention to online media laws, in comparison with international standards. Additionally, recommendations were compiled to feed into the design of the future network of specialized lawyers.

In the context of recent developments within the media sector in Jordan, namely the amendment of the Press and Publication Law leading to the closing of hundreds of websites, the need for legal support to media professionals has been identified as part of an overall development plan. In September 2013, UNESCO Amman started with phase one towards achieving a long-term goal to support media through a network of specialized lawyers to defend journalists, media activists, bloggers and other media professionals in court.  

During the first phase of the project, a specific training for young lawyers was organized to familiarize them with international standards and national laws and regulations in order to better represent their clients in court. Moreover, an Action Plan for best solutions and recommended actions towards achieving freedom of expression in Jordan, with emphasis on Internet freedom and news websites was developed. 

During the current phase of the project, a coaching period for the trained lawyers took place including actual court presence and deliberations on current cases involving media. In May 2014 a training camp for law students from five national universities was organized on media laws in Jordan.

In addition to the training cycle, an online platform is currently being created to serve as the sole comprehensive source for media laws and regulations in Jordan. The portal will provide detailed information needed for journalists, lawyers, and various media stakeholders to better understand the legal context related to media and freedom of expression in Jordan. The website will be updated and managed by the network created throughout the project.

Future phases in the project will include a workshop on creating synergies among the trained groups and with media stakeholders, and a Training of Trainers workshop (TOT) that will extend into a peer education initiative at local universities.

This project is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) in its goal to promote an enabling environment for freedom of expression, with a special focus on the Arab Region.

Background information

UNESCO is known as the “intellectual” agency of the United Nations. At a time when the world is looking for new ways to build peace and sustainable development, people must rely on the power of intelligence to innovate, expand their horizons and sustain the hope of a new humanism. UNESCO exists to bring this creative intelligence to life; for it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace and the conditions for sustainable development must be built. UNESCO’s mission in Jordan is to work with the government of Jordan and other stakeholders to provide effective high quality educational, scientific, cultural and communication programmes.

For more information about the work of UNESCO in Jordan, please visit UNESCO's Office in Amman website.