Taliban Bans Girls' Phone Calls to Media Outlets in Khost province

 

February 25, 2024

Khost- The Taliban Police in Southeast Khost Province has issued a ban on girls making phone calls to radios and televisions in the province. Media officials have been warned that they will face summoning and prosecution if they allow girls to participate in phone calls to media outlets. The Afghanistan Journalists Center has expressed serious concern over the impact of this ban on the freedom of the press and demands its immediate cancellation.

AFJC has obtained a copy of an official letter dated Saturday, February 24, signed by Abdul Rasheed Omari, the Taliban police chief in Khost province. The letter states: "Some private radio stations in Khost are promoting moral corruption, such as broadcasting school lessons or social programs involving many girls." "Girls are engaging in illegal phone calls with the presenters of these programs during official and unofficial hours, leading to moral corruption in society and violating Islamic values."

The Taliban police chief in Khost asked the Department of Information and Culture of the province to conveying this message to the media.The letter concluded by warning that if local media continue to air programs involving girls, their officials will be will face summoning and prosecution.

Currently, there are 15 radios and three private TVs in operation in Khost province, in addition to national (state) radio and television stations. While Taliban media directives are typically communicated orally, the written warning from Khost Police Headquarters to local media outlets is unprecedented. Some local journalists believe that the Department of Information and Culture may have played a role in issuing the warning.

Due to the Taliban ban on schools for girls above the sixth grade in the country, educational programs through media outlets have increased in across the country. Sources in Khost province says the some media outlets have been accused of using textbooks outside the educational curriculum and engaging in selling textbooks at inflated prices.

AFJC strongly condemns the threat of summoning and prosecuting journalists and media officials for allowing girls to make phone calls, citing a breach of the media law. AFJC is urging the cancellation of the ban and emphasizing the protection of journalists' rights in accordance with existing media legislation.

Under the Afghanistan Media Law enacted by the previous government, which the Taliban government has recognized as still valid, individuals are guaranteed the right to freedom of expression, including the dissemination of information without government interference. However, there have been reported instances of Taliban officials intimidating and meddling in media operations, thereby weakening press freedom.