Concern about Jordanian parliament’s call for Danish cartoonists to be punished

first_img January 25, 2006 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Concern about Jordanian parliament’s call for Danish cartoonists to be punished News News Organisation News Help by sharing this information JordanMiddle East – North Africa Jordan bans coverage of teachers’ protests to go further Follow the news on Jordan Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about the Jordanian parliament’s call yesterday for the punishment of the cartoonist who drew 12 caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed that appeared in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten on 30 September and were reprinted in the Norwegian publication Magazinet on 10 January.“Islam forbids any representation of the Prophet and we realize that these cartoons may upset some people, but it is not acceptable for the parliament of a supposedly democratic country to call for the cartoonists to be punished,” the press freedom organisation said.“Those who so desire may bring a complaint against the newspaper, but politicians should under no circumstances should call for direct reprisals against journalists,” Reporters Without Borders continued. “The cartoonists have already received death threats and these new statements put them in further danger.”In a statement yesterday, the Jordanian parliament said the cartoons “constitute a cowardly and reprehensible crime” and urged the Norwegian and Danish authorities “to express their condemnation and disapproval of this hateful crime and to punish the perpetrators and instigators.” It also called on “parliaments, governments and civil society organisations in the Muslim world to take a firm position on this evil, which strikes at the sentiments of the Arabo-Muslim nation.”Jyllands-Posten editor Carsten Juste received several death threats after he published the cartoons last September and hired bodyguards to protect his journalists. The two threatened cartoonists were forced to go into hiding. Similar threats have been made against Magazinet since it republished them two weeks ago.Leading Muslim clerics living in Denmark called the cartoons an insult to Islam and its Prophet and on 6 October asked Jyllands-Posten for a formal apology. Juste refused, saying “we live in a democracy where satire and caricature are generally well accepted and where religion should not pose any limits on this.” Around 5,000 Muslims protested on the streets of Copenhagen on 14 October against the “provocative” and “arrogant” cartoons.A total of 11 ambassadors from Muslim countries so far have requested an interview with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to discuss the issue, but he continues to refuse to receive them, stressing his country’s commitment to press freedom. In his New Year’s message, he described freedom of expression as “vital,” as “absolute” and as “non-negotiable.” But he also condemned “any form of expression, action or signs that tended to demonize a group of people on the basis of their religion.”An agreement was reached between Denmark and the Arab League on 5 January not to pursue the controversy any further. April 14, 2020 Find out more August 12, 2020 Find out more Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about the Jordanian parliament’s call yesterday for the punishment of the cartoonist who drew 12 caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed that appeared in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten on 30 September and were reprinted in the Norwegian publication Magazinet on 10 January. News JordanMiddle East – North Africa Coronavirus “information heroes” – journalism that saves lives June 15, 2020 Find out more RSF_en Two Jordanian TV journalists arrested after broadcasting criticism of lockdown Receive email alertslast_img read more

Lawmakers work on court funding plans

first_img April 15, 2003 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Lawmakers work on court funding plans Senior EditorAs the Florida Legislature neared the midpoint of its 2003 regular session, justice system officials continued to struggle with a two-fold problem — dealing with likely budget cuts for the 2003-04 budget and with plans for the state taking over more trial court funding next year.Both the House and Senate were looking at reductions to the court budget that would cut 49 positions in the Senate version and 125 in the House fiscal plan. Cuts were also planned for state attorneys and public defenders. An analysis from the Office of the State Courts Administrator said the House version would result in long delays in deciding cases and increased costs for litigants.The shift in trial court funding, however, appeared to be producing fairly compatible plans as House leaders prepared to make changes to earlier proposals. Those early, tentative lower chamber plans had called for massive changes in how courts are administered, but Rep. Holly Benson, R-Pensacola, chair of the House Select Committee on Article V, said legislation would be presented to the committee as this News went to press.This year, the court system got about $292 million from this legislature, and next year, about $19 million of that and 344 employees of the guardian ad litem program will be transferred out of the judiciary. But beyond that, Lisa Goodner, deputy state court administrator, said the Senate would cut court spending about $9.3 million and 49 positions while the House version would cut $10.1 million and 125 positions. The specific position cuts in the House budget make that budget plan particularly difficult.“We are working with them trying to bring down the size of the cuts for the courts, because the size of it now is really damaging,” Goodner said. “We’re also trying to convince them to let us decide the best way to take the cuts that best preserves our core functions.”Cutting the court budget is always difficult because 75 to 80 percent is salaries of judges and their assistants — and the number of judges and their salaries are set by statute. That means, she said, that reductions have to come from other areas of the court budget, which are disproportionately affected.Despite the overall cuts, there are some funds for new projects in the budget. The House has $2.8 million for improvement to small county courthouses, $560,000 for drug court treatment programs in two circuits, plus the lease at for the Second District Court of Appeal at the new Stetson law school in Tampa and repairs for the Second DCA office in Lakeland. The Senate has $175,000 for Supreme Court maintenance, $320,000 to support the statewide court computer network, $100,000 for conflict cases under the Jimmy Ryce Act (on civil commitment for sex offenders), the Stetson-Second DCA lease, credit for counties that set up teleconferencing systems for first court appearances, 9.5 positions for child support hearing officers, and $50,000 for JQC workload issues.Goodner said court officials will ask the House to allow the judicial branch to switch the small county courthouse funds and drug court funds to other programs, but believe the other new money is needed.The House cuts in staff followed the recommendations of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Judiciary, but added three OSCA positions on communications and legislative relations.Those cuts included six central staff attorney positions and three assistant positions at the Supreme Court and 31 central staff attorney positions at the district courts of appeal. At the trial courts, the House would cut 37 judicial administrative positions, 20 juvenile alternative sanction coordinator positions, stop a state match for traffic hearing officers, and eliminate case management for model dependency court pilots. There are also other operating cuts.The OSCA analysis noted the Supreme Court central staff handles more than half of all court filings, including Bar grievances and procedural rules. Similarly, the DCA central staff handles large numbers of petitions and filings. Elimination of those positions would slow down case handling, and raise the costs for litigants. Likewise, the cuts at the trial courts would slow down cases and require judges to spend more time on administration instead of deciding cases.The traffic hearing officer cut would also hurt. OSCA said that Dade County spends $208,625 on 24 hearing officers, and if that programs ends, it would take $1.5 million and seven new county court judges to do that work.Rep. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, chair of the House Judicial Appropriations Subcommittee, said despite the cuts, core functions were protected. That included preserving the judicial education trust fund, which pays for judicial training and continuing education, declining to follow the governor’s recommendation to cut the number of judicial assistants for the DCAs in half, provided $23.8 million more in funding for public defenders and state attorneys than recommended by the governor, and increasing spending for DCAs by $3 million over initial budget proposals.“I have tried cases in our trial court system for 17 years and am personally committed to keeping Florida’s co-equal third branch strong and independent,” Negron said in a letter to Bar members. “I believe in Florida’s judicial branch and want to ensure that our citizens have access to a court system we can all be proud of, even in these difficult economic times.”State attorneys and public defenders, while getting a smaller percentage cut, said they would be hurt by proposed House cuts. State attorneys would lose about $10 million statewide and 30.75 positions.“It’s going to impair our ability to do our job to protect Florida citizens,” said Third Circuit State Attorney Jerry Blair, president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association. “With the state attorneys, somewhere between 90 and 95 percent of our budgets are for salaries. When you experience cuts that large, it means fewer people.”He and Second Circuit Public Defender Nancy Daniels, president of the Florida Public Defender Association, said their offices are already strained to the limit after three years with no new employees or significant new funding.“Obviously we cannot provide the same level of service for less money,” Blair said. “It is certainly probable we will have to scale back on prosecutions in some areas.. . . State government is going to take some very real hits this year unless someone bites the bullet and decides to increase revenues, and that doesn’t seem very likely.”One little noticed provision that could impact criminal prosecutions affects the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab, Blair said. Instead of the state continuing the $30 million cost of the lab, it has cut the state part to $14 million and now will require counties and cities using the lab to pay for its services. Smaller governments without their own labs might be hard pressed to pick up that expense, he said.There are actually some new workload positions for public defenders, but overall the budgets have been reduced by the House, which is mandating cuts in administration, Daniels said.“In my small circuit, we have an administrative staff of three, and we would take a $80,000 cut,” she said. “We have a staff of 125 people, so it’s a fairly lean staff to begin with.”And that comes on three years of no increase in staff — a statistic that doesn’t adequately reflect higher workloads. Daniels estimated that because of three strikes, the 10-20-30 law and other tough-on-crime measures, the number of jury trials in the Second Circuit has doubled in the past two years.Public defenders got pay raises for new attorneys last year, which helped recruitment, but other staff didn’t, she said, despite rising caseloads and higher health insurance premiums.“There are eight circuits right now that are receiving county assistance because of state budget shortfalls,” Daniels said. “I would anticipate that would increase this year, and we might have to have some furloughs or work stoppages.”She added that lawmakers are suggesting public defenders could save money by not representing indigents charged with violating municipal or county ordinances. But that could be difficult because defendants are frequently charged with violating a variety of state and local laws, and trying to represent a defendant on only some charges might produce administrative nightmares, Daniels said. Funding ShiftIn the background of the budget battle are concerns about how the state will take over funding next year, when Revision 7 to the constitution, passed by voters in 1998, goes into effect. Much of the worry has been focused on tentative House proposals, which included removing many administrative functions from OSCA. Those early proposals would have shifted those responsibilities to the Justice Administrative Commission, which handles accounting functions for state attorneys and public defenders, or a new agency appointed by the governor.Those concerns prompted public statements from Supreme Court Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead. But Rep. Benson said, even as Anstead was voicing his concerns, she was meeting with court officials to draw up legislation that differed from tentative proposals aired in early meetings.Major points, she said, included in the legislation will be:• OSCA will remain in charge of administration for the court system, including trial courts and including new functions assumed from the counties with the funding shift. The Justice Administrative Commission will continue to perform those functions for state attorneys and public defenders, including increases in state funding associated with Revision 7.• Designing a system to impose and collect fines, fees, and court costs that many times now are not imposed or are left uncollected because of ambiguous statutes or lax collection policies. “We are building a mechanism to make many of them [imposition of costs and fees] automatic and putting in collections processes in all of the counties,” Benson said. “We think if you are found guilty of a crime, you ought to be held liable for that.”• Changing the indigency examination process to determine which criminal defendants qualify for public defenders, with an eye to making sure public defenders are provided only to those who cannot afford their own lawyers. The Florida Public Defender Association has warned, though, that alteration may only delay the assignment of defenders to defendants who would have qualified for them anyway. The association also said the greatest efficiency is reached when defendants have attorneys for their first appearances.• A flexible approach to funding that allows counties and the state to work together to meet local needs. Benson said the state will be picking up substantial new costs associated with courts, public defenders, and state attorneys and “we will pick up many of those other programs [beyond basic court functions] as we have funding in the general appropriations act.” She noted that some counties might want, for example, special mental health or elderly courts. In those instances, Benson added, “We will be funding all those basic state court elements, the counties will be our partners and pick up the additional administrative costs that are additional to that basic structure.”Benson said she’s been in touch with Senate officials and anticipates no difficulty in reaching a final plan to pass this year. She noted, though, some fine-tuning will likely be necessary next year because of the size of the undertaking.The changes appear to address the concerns of committee members expressed at the select committee’s last meeting (see story in the April 1 News ). Some said shifting administrative duties from OSCA might violate constitutional separation of powers mandates.Committee members weren’t the only ones concerned. Supreme Court Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead sent letters to newspapers across the state, and expressed concern in interviews.“I’m scared to death. I have never seen our court system more at risk,” Anstead told the St. Petersburg Times. “As head of this branch I feel obligated to speak out when it’s in danger.”Sixth Circuit Judge Susan Schaeffer, chair of the Supreme Court’s Trial Court Budget Commission, sent a nine-page letter to Benson raising several questions.Aside from administrative concerns, Schaeffer said many of the committee’s proposals could affect programs set up to increase the courts’ efficiency, such as drug courts, mediation programs, and projects to help pro se litigants. For example, charging pro se litigants for assistance from court clerks, as proposed by the committee, would lead some pro se parties to do everything themselves. Many would show up in court with incomplete paperwork, wasting both their and the judge’s time, she said.The court system was not the only entity raising questions about the legislative proposals for dealing with Revision 7. Daniels also sent a letter for the Florida Public Defender Association raising several issues. One was a provision in both the House and Senate plans banning public defenders from withdrawing from cases for workload reasons. Daniels said that might be unconstitutional.She noted that the House budget proposed cutting $2 million statewide from public defenders and “is just the most recent example of the instability of public defender funding.”Benson said she thinks most of the concerns have been addressed.“I think both the Senate and the House are very committed to getting this first phase done, and we’ve been communicating, and I think we will pass something that voters and the court system will be proud of,” she said. Lawmakers work on court funding planslast_img read more