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Afghanistan: AFJC recorded 260 violations of media freedom in 2022

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Afghanistan: AFJC recorded 260 violations of media freedom in 2022

An Afghan journalist, in exile in Athens, Greece, stands on a terrace with her young daughter, 8 March 2022. Several Afghan women members of Parliament, along with activists and judges who escaped Afghanistan when the Taliban seized power of the country in August 2021, had been holding meetings in Athens to consolidate their network and work in advocacy. Loulou D’Aki/Getty Images

The report indicates that over half of Afghanistan’s 600 active media outlets have ceased operations and hundreds of journalists and media workers have left the country since the Taliban took power.

This statement was originally published on afjc.media on 30 December 2022.

On Friday, 30 December, the Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) issued its annual report about media freedom in Afghanistan during 2022, which witnessed an unprecedented increase in incidents of violence and threats to journalists compared to the previous year.

The report finds a deterioration in press freedom in 2022, marked by detentions, threats, assaults, and restrictions on media outlets, and journalists, and in particular women journalists.

The report’s findings show that media freedom, which had been acquired over the past two decades before the Taliban came to power in mid-August 2021, is rapidly fading. The year 2022 witnessed a total of 260 violations, including threats, detentions, and violent confrontations, which is a sharp increase of 138% from 2021. In 2021, at least 109 incidents were recorded, including eight deaths of journalists and media workers, as well as arrests and threats to journalists.

AFJC said in its report, that with the exception of a few cases, most of these incidents were carried out by agencies or individuals connected to the Taliban, particularly the police and General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI).

Of the total number of incidents recorded in 2022, at least 119 of them were temporary detentions of journalists from one to several hours, to days, or several months, the majority of which were accompanied by physical and psychological violence, insults, and the humiliation of detainees.

About half of the arrests of journalists (58) occurred in Kabul, 11 in Kandahar, 11 in Paktia, 7 in Ghazni, and 6 in Faryab. There were 3 incidents in each province of Herat, Samangan, and Bamiyan, two incidents were recorded in each of the provinces of Parwan, Uruzgan, Logar and Ghor, and 1 each in the provinces of Kapisa, Balkh, Takhar, Nangarhar, Khost, Helmand, Zabul, Farah, and Badghis.

Among the detained individuals were at least three journalists, including Khaled Qaderi, a former presenter of Nowruz radio in Herat, who was detained on March 17, 2022; freelance journalist Faizullah Faizbakhsh from Kabul detained on August 17, and Qudratullah Tarar, a reporter for Zarghun TV from Khost, detained on 11 November 2022. Khalid Qaderi was been sentenced to one year in prison by the Herat court for posting his critical view of the Taliban on social media. Faizbakhsh was arrested while shooting at the site where al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri was “killed” in Kabul, and Tarar was arrested for his journalism work and critical posts on social media.

AFJC has recorded 128 incidents of threats to journalists and the media in the past 12 months. Less than half of these threat cases (50 cases) were recorded in Kabul, 9 in Nangarhar, 8 in Faryab, and 7 in each of the Kapisa and Kandahar provinces.

In addition to arrests, in 2022 there were at least 11 separate incidents of physical violence and beatings – 4 in Kabul, 2 in Badghis, and 1 in each of the provinces of Balkh, Samangan, Takhar, Nangarhar, and Zabul, the report stated. At least two incidents have resulted in journalists being wounded in Kabul.

The report indicates that over half of Afghanistan’s 600 active media outlets (audio, video, print, and online) have ceased operations and hundreds of journalists and media workers have left the country since the Taliban took power, while women journalists have been marginalized. The Taliban’s 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. The report underlines that due to the Taliban’s new rules, access to information is very restricted, and media outlets are required to seek permission before publishing any information. With media no longer able to broadcast music and entertainment programs, sources of advertising revenue have shrunk.

The report also states that the security apparatus of the Taliban, particularly its Intelligence Agency, as well as the Ministry of virtue and vice, have been directly and indirectly conducting a crackdown on media freedom and freedom of expression by arresting, threatening, and scaring journalists.

AFJC said: ”We are extremely concerned by the constant dangers Afghan media workers have to face and demand respect of freedom of the press in Afghanistan, as well as an end to all violations of press freedoms. We call upon the authorities to implement the Afghanistan mass media law and the access to information law and to support free media activities based on these laws.”

Source: https://ifex.org/afghanistan-afjc-recorded-260-violations-of-media-freedom-in-2022/

 

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