Afghanistan: AFJC documents 75 instances of media freedom violations in 2023

The Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) revealed in a report on Saturday that it has documented 75 incidents of violations of media freedom from March to November this year.

Covering the initial six months of the ongoing 1402 solar year, AFJC’s report delves into the challenges faced by media organizations and journalists in Afghanistan.

The report sheds light on the evolving media landscape, escalating constraints on independent media, and a concerning rise in the arrests of journalists.

Spanning from March 21 to November 17, 2023, the report exposes widespread disruptions to media operations across provinces and in the capital city of Kabul.

Stringent restrictions on information access have hindered media organizations’ ability to produce independent reports and engage in critical journalism.

The Taliban’s tightening control over media content has compelled outlets to focus exclusively on approved coverage of humanitarian events, aid efforts, and educational programs.

Moreover, the report underscores the persistent crackdown on journalists expressing critical opinions on the current state of the country, including on online platforms.

Despite the Taliban’s purported support for media and access to information laws, the report reveals that their implementation remains inconsistent with directives issued in the past two years.

AFJC’s recent research identifies at least 13 directives concerning the media during this period, surpassing the limited adjustments proposed by the Taliban in the country’s media laws. Journalists and media organizations continue to face repercussions based on these directives.

In the first six months of the ongoing solar year, the Afghanistan Journalists Center documented a total of 75 incidents violating media freedom. These incidents included 33 arrests and 42 instances of threats against journalists and media personnel. The intelligence department spearheaded most arrests, with other agencies, notably intelligence, information, and culture, also implicated in threatening journalists and media professionals.

Highlighting the detrimental impact of restrictions on the free press and journalists’ rights, AFJC calls for the Taliban to review their media policy.

Additionally, AFJC urges the Taliban to refrain from imposing unjustified and extra-legal demands on journalists and media, fostering an environment where they can work without fear and free from self-censorship.