Journalistic Freedom, Media Rights Suffered Great Setback in 2022 Under Taliban Regime in Afghanistan, Says AFJC

The latest: Journalistic freedom and media rights suffered a great setback in 2022 under the Taliban regime, said a statement by the Afghan Journalists’ Center (AFJC) on Friday. The report on the situation of journalists and media in Afghanistan in 2022 also stated that there has been an unprecedented increase in incidents of violence and threats to journalists, the work space for the media has also been severely restricted.

Go deeper:

  • The report’s findings show that the freedom of the Afghan media community, which had been acquired over the past two decades before the Taliban came to power in mid-August 2021, is rapidly fading. AFJC added that the violations of freedom of media and journalists have doubled in 2022.
  • In 2022, the AFJC recorded at least 260 incidents of violations of media freedom and journalists, including threats, detentions and violent confrontations, which is a sharp 138% increase from 2021. In 2021, at least 109 incidents were recorded, including eight deaths of journalists and media workers, as well as the arrest and threats of journalists.
  • The report’s findings indicate that, with the exception of a few cases, most of these incidents were carried out by agencies or individuals belonging to the Taliban, particularly the security and intelligence directorate.
  • Detentions: Of the total number of events recorded in 2022 at the Afghan Journalists Center, at least 119 of them are temporary detentions of journalists from one to several hours and days and several months, the majority of which have been accompanied by physical and psychological violence, insults and humiliation of detainees.
  • About half of the arrests of journalists (58) in Kabul, 11 in Kandahar, 11 in Paktia, 7 in Ghazni, 6 in Faryab, in each province of Herat, Samangan, and Bamiyan 3 Two arrests have been recorded in one province of Parwan, Uruzgan, Logar and Ghor, and in each province of Kapisa, Balkh, Takhar, Nangarhar, Khost, Helmand, Zabul, Farah, and Badghis provinces.
  • Among the detained journalists are at least three journalists and media workers, including Khaled Qaderi, a former radio presenter of Nowruz in Herat, who was detained on March 17, 2022; freelance journalist Faizullah Faizbakhsh from Kabul on August 17, and Qadratullah Tarar, a reporter for Zarghun TV from Khost on November 11, 2022. Khalid Qaderi has 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.
  • Threats: AFJC has recorded 128 incidents of threats to journalists and media in the past 12 months. Less than half of these threat cases (50 cases) have been recorded in Kabul, nine in Nangarhar, eight in Faryab, and seven in each of Kapisa and Kandahar provinces.
  • Physical assault: In 2022, there were at least 11 separate incidents of physical violence and beatings, four in Kabul, two in Badghis and in each of Balkh, Samangan, Takhar, Nangarhar and Zabul provinces, the report stated. At least two incidents have resulted in journalists being wounded in Kabul.
  • Closure of free media: Surveys by the Afghan Journalists Center show that while most of the country’s 600 active media outlets (audio, video, print and online) have been shut down and hundreds of journalists and media workers have left the country while women journalists have been marginalized.
  • The report also stated 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.
  • The media watchdog called on the Taliban to implement media laws and allow access to information to support free media activities based on these laws.

Zoom out: This comes even as with the year coming to a close, Reporters Without Borders has published a report on violence against journalists over the past 20 years around the world and stated that Afghanistan is among the most dangerous country for journalists.

  • In total, at least 1,787 journalists have been killed worldwide since 2000.
  • The report comes as violence against journalists in Afghanistan has escalated with the Taliban seizing power in Afghanistan.
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