AFJC: Murders of journalists, media workers more than doubled in Afghanistan in 1399 Solar Year

 AFJC Executive Director Ahmad Quraishi Speaking at a ceremony marking the National Journalist’s Day in Kabul, March 17, 2021

March 17, 2021

KABUL:  At least 11 journalists and media workers were killed in Afghanistan in the 1399 Solar year (March 20, 2020- March 20, 2021), more than double the previous year’s figure of five. 

The Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) annual report reveals that a total of 114 cases of violations against media freedoms in Afghanistan including 11 cases of targeted killings have taken place during the 1399 solar year

The cases of violations documented by the AFJC include killing, injury, physical and verbal harassment, short-term detention, insult and humiliation, abduction, and various threats against journalists and media workers.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the National Journalist’s Day (17 March), AFJC Executive Director Ahmad Quraishi said that 11 journalists and media workers including four women were killed in targeted attacks in Afghanistan in 1399.  According to Quraishi, most of the victims were targeted for their work.

Quraishi highlighted that Ahmad Khan Navid, a presenter of Radio Seday-e- Ghor in Firoozkoh, Mir Wahid shah(Zamir) Amiri, a reporter, and Shafiq Zabih, a technician of Khorshid TV in Kabul, Elyas Da’ee, a reporter of Azadi Radio, Malala Maywand, a presenter at Enikas TV in Jalalabad and her driver Tahirkhan, Rahmatullah Nikzad, a freelance photographer in Ghazni province, Bismillah Adel Aimaq, head of Seday-e-Ghor radio, Sadia Sadat, Morsal waheedi and Shahnaz Raoufi employees of Enikas TV lost their lives during 1399.

He further noted that 16 incident of injury, 45 cases of threat, 13 physical harassment, 12 cases of insult and misbehavior, eight cases of armed attack, six cases of arrests, three cases of abductions, and dozens of cases of limitation on access to information were also monitored and documented by the organization during the past 12 months.

“These high number of violations, in particular, the sharp increase in the targeted killings demonstrate clear violation to journalists’ rights to the safe and secure working environment, undermine the public right to know and create an environment of self-censorship, hiding, and fleeing of dozens of journalists from Afghanistan,” AFJC Executive Director added.

According to the AFJC annual data, seven out of 11 fatal cases of journalists and media workers have been claimed by Daesh(IS-K), Taliban are said to be behind three cases and unknown individual committed one murder. In addition, from 16 incidents of injury, seven committed by Daesh, five by the Taliban, and the remaining carried out by unknown armed men.

Of the total number of threats amounting to 12 committed by government employees, 11 by the Taliban, nine by unknown individuals, five by the National Directorate of Security (NDS), three by the police, and remaining committed by the Presidential Protection Service members, a parliament member, a provincial council member, an ANA officer, and local warlord.

Of 13 physical harassments, four committed by the police, three by government employees, two committed by bodyguards of a parliament member, and one by each of NDS, ANA, unknown individual, and warlord. Also, of a total number of insults, seven committed by the police, two by each NDS and unknown individuals, and one committed by PPS. Also, of the attack incidents, seven carried out by unknown individuals, and one by a warlord.

The report also reveals that government officials including the NDS and police were involved in two illegal arrests of journalists and all three abductions of journalists committed by the Taliban.

Concerned about the safety of journalists in March 2021, the Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) along with 40 other civil society organizations from around the globe, sent a letter to the UNSC and UNAMA urging them to stand in solidarity with the Afghan journalists and help ensure their safety and media freedom, given the role they play in a peaceful and democratic transition during and after the ongoing peace negotiations.