Watchdog calls on Taliban to end media crackdown in Afghanistan

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On the eve of the two year mark of the collapse of the republic government in Afghanistan, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the Taliban to stop its relentless campaign of media intimidation and abide by its promise to protect journalists in the country.

Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, said on Monday that two years after the Taliban takeover, “Afghanistan’s once vibrant free press is a ghost of its former self.”

He said: “Worsening media repression is isolating Afghanistan from the rest of the world, at a time when the country is grappling with one of the world’s largest humanitarian emergencies. Access to reliable and trustworthy information can help save lives and livelihoods in a crisis, but the Taliban’s escalating crackdown on media is doing the opposite.”

Despite the Taliban’s initial promise to allow press freedom after taking power on August 15, 2021, the Taliban have shut down dozens of local media outlets, banned some international broadcasters, and denied visas to foreign correspondents, the CPJ reported.

The organization said it has continued to document multiple cases of censorship, beatings, and arbitrary arrests of journalists, as well as restrictions on female reporters. “The Taliban’s intelligence agency, the General Directorate of Intelligence, has been the driving force behind the crackdown.”

In the last two years, hundreds of journalists from Afghanistan have fled to neighboring countries like Pakistan and Iran, and many are now stuck in legal limbo without clear prospects of resettlement to a third country.

“Since 2021, Afghans have become among the largest share of exiled journalists receiving emergency support from CPJ each year,” the CPJ stated.

The organization also noted that when it conducted its most recent annual worldwide census of imprisoned journalists on December 1, 2022, Afghanistan appeared for the first time in 12 years, with three reporters in jail.