AFJC Documents 366 Violations of Media Freedoms in Afghanistan during Two Years of Taliban Rule


A member of Taliban special forces pushes a journalist covering a demonstration by women protesters outside a school in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 30, 2021. © 2021 Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images

August 15, 2023

Kabul- Today, the Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) released its report on the state of media freedoms in Afghanistan over the past two years under Taliban rule. The report highlights the serious decline in press freedom, including censorship, detentions, assaults, and restrictions imposed on media outlets, journalists, and female journalists in particular.

Covering the period between August 15, 2021, and August 15, 2023, the report documents a total of 366 incidents of media freedom violations in Afghanistan. These incidents involve tragic losses, including the deaths of three media personnel in Kabul and northern Balkh province, injuries sustained by 23 journalists, and 176 cases of temporary and mid-term detentions that often involve physical violence, insults, and even torture. Shockingly, some detentions have lasted months, with nine individuals currently held in Taliban custody. In addition, the report reveals at least 139 cases of threats, and 25 cases of physical harassment and beatings against journalists.

The findings indicate that numerous media outlets are on the verge of collapse due to various factors, such as a decrease in funding, the absence of media professionals, the lack of rights and business advertisements, and increasing restrictions on the media.

Moreover, the report reveals that the Taliban has imposed several directives that restrict freedom of speech, leading to censorship and persecution, effectively eroding the independence of journalists. State-run media outlets now ban women journalists, and those in the private sector can only appear on TV if their faces are covered. Female journalists are prohibited from interviewing Taliban officials without a male colleague present. These women are segregated within office spaces, with separate entrances and exits, and are denied interaction with male colleagues. This oppressive environment has caused significant fear among women journalists, with concerns of a complete ban on their work. The report also highlights that media outlets must seek permission before publishing information, further stifling their operations. As a result of these conditions, many female journalists have already fled the country since the Taliban takeover.

With the inability to broadcast music and entertainment programs, media outlets have experienced a decline in advertising revenue, resulting in many closures. According to AFJC's findings, over half of the 600 media outlets, including radio and television, print and online media, have ceased operations. This has led to a significant number of job losses and forced exits, particularly among women working in journalism. Unfortunately, this distressing trend has persisted since the Taliban assumed power in August 2021.

The report also exposes the Taliban's security forces, such as the Intelligence Agency and the Ministry of Virtue and Vice, for directly and indirectly undermining media freedom and freedom of expression through arrests, threats, and intimidation.

AFJC expresses deep concern over the ongoing dangers faced by Afghan media workers and calls for respect for press freedom in Afghanistan. They demand an end to all violations against press freedoms. AFJC urges Taliban authorities to implement the Afghanistan mass media law and the access to information law, and to support free media activities as outlined in these laws.

In addition, AFJC calls on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan journalists, ensuring their safety and upholding media freedom. Support for the media in Afghanistan is crucial in maintaining press freedom and freedom of expression.