A local radio banned amid bribery charges in North Afghanistan

A local radio banned amid bribery charges in North Afghanistan

Sar-e-Pul, July 28, 2013

A local functioning radio called ‘Saday-e-Bano’ (Voice of Woman) was shut down in northern Sar-e-Pul province of Afghanistan by officials of Information and Cultural Department of the province over lacking requisite documents and professionalism.

However officials working for Radio said their transmissions were blocked after they refused to pay bribes to the authorities concerned. The Radio stopped operating four days ago after its senior officials were taken to the provincial attorney’s office.

Shafiullah Azizi, head of the banned Radio, said the director of the Information and Cultural department, Abdul Qadoos Fahim, had asked his collegue to pay a bribe and in return he would allow the station to function.

“The director called us to his office four days ago and demanded money,” said Azizi, “he even threatened with shutting down the radio unless I pay the illegal gratification.”

After he was failed to provide enough operating license documents, he was asked to pay a bribe but he rejected and it resulted in shutting down the local radio.

The Radio has been operational for above three years and it was established on the pretext of highlighting Afghan women’s issues. Unfortunately, the Radio has never been supported or cooperated by the province’s women affairs department.

Main while, the governor of Sar-e-Pul province, Abdul Jabbar Haqbin, confirmed the closure of the radio but call it an illegal action of the director of Information and Culture department and promised to open it as soon as possible.

The closure of the Radio comes up following humiliation and beating of a three local journalists by local officials in Kabul and Pul-e-Khumri cities.

On July 28, Shir Mohammad Jahish, head of Tanwir TV in Northern Pul-e-Khumri city, phoned AFJC, that a reporter and cameraman for the TV were beaten up by guards of ex- mayor of the city and also they took their media equipments and car and then they ran away.

Two days back, a video reporter of Bokhdi News Agency, Nasratullah Iqbal circulated in social networking websites portraying him in a bad situation with his face and dress covered in blood.

Iqbal said to AFJC, that he was invited by a friend of Northern Parwan province to the restaurant in Kabul to discuss some issues.

"The governor criticized me for writing a review regarding his book and when I tried to answer him, he insulted and hit me on my face with a bottle of water and then started beating me with his guards.” He said.

Afghanistan journalists Center's director, Ahmad Quraishi, strongly condemned the radio’s closure as an attack on the freedom of speech.

He added that, the information director should have taken legal action instead of using force and threatening the radio official.

According to the Afghanistan Media law; every person has the right to freedom of thought and speech, which includes the right to seek, obtain and disseminate information and views within the limit of law without any interference, restriction and threat by the government or officials. The right also includes free activity of means of publication, distribution, and reception of information.

The law also states that the government shall support, strengthen, and guarantee the freedom of mass media, except as authorized under this law, no real or legal person including government and government offices may ban, prohibit, censor or limit the informational activities of mass media or otherwise interfere in their affairs.

Afghanistan Journalists Center expresses serious concerns about the increase of such incidents of violations against reporters in a critical time that the process of voters registration for the presidential and local council elections are months away.

The AFJC calls on the Afghan government to ensure the freedom of media activities by ensuring the security and supporting the reporters’ rights by holding the violators accountable for their acts.