After 12 years, Afghanistan Features in CPJ’s Prison Census with Three Imprisoned Journalists Under Taliban Rule


The latest: In a first since the past 12 years, Afghanistan has been listed by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) among the nations with increasing number of imprisoned journalists.

Go deeper:

  • The CPJ’s prison census states that after a 12-year hiatus, Afghanistan returns to CPJ’s list with three imprisoned journalists.
  • It said that conditions for the press have faced serious setbacks since the return of the Taliban regime.
  • “The record number of journalists in jail is a crisis that mirrors an erosion of democracy globally,” said CPJ President Jodie Ginsberg.
  • “This year’s prison census brings into sharp relief the lengths governments will go to silence reporting that seeks to hold power to account. Criminalizing journalism has impacts far beyond the individual in jail: it stifles vital reporting that helps keep the public safe, informed, and empowered.”

Back story: Taliban has been imposing a series of restrictions on Afghan journalists, including mandatory face masks for female television anchors.

  • The group has also targeted foreign journalists they deem biased and critical of their governance.
  • Apart from this, they have imposed restrictions on coverage and detained many journalists over the past year.
  • Lynne O’Donnell, a columnist for Foreign Policy magazine, had also been briefly detained by the Taliban in July.
  • In August, the Taliban also detained a Pakistani journalist working for an Indian channel when he was seen filming the site of a U.S. drone strike in Kabul where al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed.

Zoom out: Journalists have been faced violence and other severe consequences for reporting about anti-Taliban protests, arbitrary arrests and other subjects that reflect Taliban’s tyranny on ground over the past year. According to UNAMA’s report on the human rights situation in Afghanistan, 173 cases of violence against journalists and media workers have been reported, of which 163 were attributed to the Taliban. At least, 122 journalists have been arbitrarily detained or arrested by Taliban.

  • At least 215 of the country’s 540 media outlets have closed because of financial, social and political problems since last year, according to Reporters Without Borders.
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