August 25, 2022
Kabul-- Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) issued its report about the state of media freedom in Afghanistan during the first year of Taliban rule, which has noticed a significant increase in cases of violation of media freedom and the closure of almost half of media outlets in the country.
The report finds a deterioration in press freedom over the past year, marked by censorship, detentions, assaults, and restrictions on media outlets, journalists, and in particular women journalists.
The report which covers one year of Taliban’s rule (August 15, 2021, to August 15, 2022), underlines that a total of 245 cases of violations against media freedom in Afghanistan, including 130 cases of short-term detention of journalists, which lasted from one hour to several hours and even some months that often included physical violence, insults and even torture of journalists. Additionally, during this period, at least 80 cases of threats, 28 cases of physical harassment mostly by the Taliban security forces, and five cases of injuries by the Taliban were documented.
Meanwhile, AFJC recorded two cases of killings, including the death of Alireza Ahmadi a reporter for Raha News Agency, and Najma Sadeqi a former presenter of Jahan-e-Sehat TV channel in the deadly explosion at Kabul Airport, who were trying to flee the country following fall of Kabul in mid-August 2021.
The report indicates that over half of 600 media outlets, including radio and television, print and online, have ceased operations and over 60% of journalists and media employees have not been able to work after the Taliban took power. The findings suggest that over 30% of the remaining media outlets are on the verge of collapse for certain reasons which include a significant decrease in the media funds, absence of media professionals, lack of rights and business advertisements, and the increasing restrictions imposed on media. The restrictive directives have opened the way to censorship and persecution, and largely deprive journalists of their independence. Female journalists are largely banned from state-run media outlets, and those in the private sector can appear on TV only if their faces are covered.
Media outlets require to seek permission before publishing. With media no longer able to broadcast music and entertainment programs, sources of advertising revenue have shrunk and many outlets ceased work.
There are fears that the current environment of apprehension could be used to harass female journalists, many of whom have already fled the country in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover last year.
AFJC calls for press freedom to be respected in Afghanistan, as well as an end to all forms of violation of press freedoms. It calls on the Taliban to implement the Afghan media laws including mass media and access to information laws to ensure press freedom and to reinstate the joint media and government committee which was established in 2016 to address the security concerns and press freedom violations.
The AFJC calls on the international community to stand in solidarity with 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 peace negotiations. AFJC also urges the international community to increase its support for Afghanistan’s media, which will help press freedom and freedom of expression to be maintained.