The Upper House of the Afghan Parliament, the Mesherano Jirga (MJ) said it will not pass the government’s proposed amendments to the media laws if the bill is sent to them.
A number of MJ representatives believe the amendments were in violation of the Afghan constitution and the values of freedom of expression.
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) have also voiced their concerns and said the move would push back press freedom and restrict media activities.
Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani’s office has assured that they will safeguard press freedom.
The amendments to the media law have been approved by the cabinet and caused widespread protests this week as at least 20 media outlets wrote an open letter to Ghani raising their concerns.
The 2006 mass media law has 54 articles, of which at least 13 are said to have been amended and have sparked the backlash.
Article 6 of the mass media law compels journalists to reveal their sources only when a competent court orders the disclosure. The amended draft expands this to give the authority to other government institutions such as the police, the Attorney General’s Office and the military forces.
Afghan journalists have called on the Lower and Upper house not to pass the bill as it is set to be sent to the Parliament for ratification.