Media in Afghanistan in peril: UN agency

On International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, UNAMA said Wednesday that it has recorded human rights abuses against more than 200 reporters in Afghanistan since August 2021.

UNAMA stated record numbers have been recorded of arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment, threats and intimidation. No further details were provided. 

The UN agency said that media in Afghanistan is in peril.

‘Justice has not been served for Afghan journalists’

The Kabul-based Afghanistan Journalists Center said in a statement on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists that at least 127 journalists in Afghanistan have been killed in conflict-related incidents or organized crimes in the last twenty years, but justice has not been served in at least 90% of the cases due to a dominant culture of impunity in the country.

The center says that at least eight journalists and media workers, including five women, were killed in targeted attacks and bombings in Afghanistan in 2021.

The center says that since August 2021, after the fall of the previous government, at least 245 cases of rights abuses have been recorded including arrests, physical abuse, threats, wounding and even death of journalists and media workers.

“The findings of Afghanistan Journalists Center show that two media workers have been killed during this time,” said the center.

The findings reveal that nearly 130 cases of temporary arrest associated with violence and threats – from one hour to a few days and months – have been recorded over the past year under the Taliban rule.

Khalid Qaderi, former presenter at Radio Nawroz, was one of the journalists arrested by the Taliban and sentenced by a court in Herat to one year in jail over criticizing the Taliban on social media. He has been in prison since Feb. 20, 2022, the center said.

The center calls on the Taliban to address its commitment to supporting journalists and ending impunity of crimes against journalists in the country.

The center concluded that it believes that dominant impunity to crimes against journalists in Afghanistan and the increasing threats and pressure on media workers and journalists in the country will have a damaging impact on society and on the country’s development.

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), in the year since the Taliban took power, Afghanistan lost 39.59% of its media outlets and 59.86% of its journalists, especially women journalists – three quarters of whom are now unemployed.

An RSF survey found that in August 2021, Afghanistan had 547 media outlets. One year later, 219 had closed down.

And of the 11,857 journalists tallied prior to 15 August 2021, there were only 4,759 by August 2022.

Women journalists have been impacted most – 76.19% of them have lost their jobs.

RSF reported that the Kabul region, which had the biggest number of media outlets – 133 – has been hit hard by the regime change and has lost nearly half of them. In August this year, there were only 69 outlets still operating.