Afghanistan dropped as member of Media Freedom Coalition

A media organization in Nangarhar. File photo.

Canada and the Netherlands, as co-chairs of the Media Freedom Coalition (MFC), on Saturday gave notice that Afghanistan has been removed as a member of the MFC with immediate effect.

According to a statement issued by the MFC, the decision was taken in consultation with the MFC membership and as per the Coalition’s Terms of Reference.

Afghanistan became a member country of the coalition in January 2020, when the former government committed to the Global Pledge on Media Freedom.

MFC is a global partnership of countries working together proactively to advocate for media freedom at home and abroad and all member countries are committed to respecting and upholding the Global Pledge. They are also held accountable by members if they fail to do so.

The coalition said in its statement that it is clear to the MFC that the situation of media freedom in Afghanistan is, “unfortunately, no longer in line with the Global Pledge. Indeed, the current state of affairs is one of grave concern.”

Since seizing power, the Taliban have imposed serious restrictions on media freedom that have threatened the safety and well-being of journalists and media workers. The continued harassment, attacks, and detention of journalists and exclusion of women from the media have led to a rapid loss of media independence and put journalists’ lives at risk daily.

The MFC said it will continue to closely monitor the media freedom situation in Afghanistan and reaffirms the commitment of members to the principles outlined in the Global Pledge on Media Freedom.

In reaction to the decision, Taliban said they reject the MFC’s claims of media restrictions in Afghanistan.

Taliban’s deputy minister of information and culture, Hayatullah Muhajir Farahi, said in a tweet that the media currently broadcasts in the country “in accordance with Afghan culture and Islamic values.”