IFJ condemns recent journalist arrests in Afghanistan

File Photo.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Afghan affiliate, the Afghan Independent Journalists Union (AIJU), condemned the ongoing summoning and detentions of journalists in Afghanistan in a statement on Friday, Jan. 26. The organizations urged swift investigations into all cases.

According to the IFJ, three journalists have been detained by the Taliban’s intelligence agency this year. Ehsanullah Akbari, assistant bureau chief of the Japanese media outlet Kyodo News Agency, was detained in Kabul on Jan. 17 following a summons by the Taliban’s Government Media Information Center (GMIC).

On the same day, GMIC members raided the Kyodo office in Kabul. While in custody, Akbari was forced to instruct his family to surrender their mobile phones during a phone call.

Akbari was released on Jan. 25 after nine days in custody. His release was reportedly facilitated by the Media Complaints and Rights Violations Commission, following Afghanistan’s Commitment to Preserve Taliban Media Policy.

The Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) criticized Akbari’s detention, asserting it violated the Media Law that states complaints against journalists and media should be addressed by the Media Complaints and Rights Violations Commission.

The IFJ condemned the Taliban’s “continued unlawful attempts to intimidate and silence Afghanistan’s media, which narrows the space for freedom of expression and press freedom.”

“Arbitrary arrests in retaliation for journalists’ work are alarming, and the IFJ urges Afghanistan’s Media Complaints and Rights Violations Commission to immediately investigate these incidents,” the organization stated.

In another incident on Jan. 18, Abdulhaq Hamidi, director of Garhdesh Ettelaat News Agency, and owner Ahmad Javad Rasouli, were summoned and subsequently detained and interrogated at the GDI in Kabul following an anonymous phone call.

The AIJU expressed concern about these ongoing actions, emphasizing the need to expedite Media Violation Commission meetings to address journalist cases more efficiently.