Daily Times, March 17, 2009
Press freedom on decline in Afghanistan: report
Reporters Without Borders report says Taliban, security forces, local authorities and NATO forces are ‘guilty of seriously obstructing the work of journalists’
Respect for press freedom has fallen sharply in recent weeks in Afghanistan, a fact-finding mission report by international media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders said on Monday. The Paris-based organisation’s report said, “The murder of Jawed Ahmad, a reporter for various Canadian news media in Kandahar, the newspaper Payman’s closure as a result of pressure from conservatives and the government, and the supreme court’s confirmation of Perwiz Kambakhsh’s 20-year jail sentence are all evidence that press freedom is in serious crisis.”
Yaqub Ibrahimi: Last year there were protests in 15 provinces on a single day, to try to get justice for Pervez. The people who marched were marching for democracy, marching for justice, and they have been disappointed. These people are the future of Afghanistan, but they have been ignored by the people who are fighting against democracy and against human rights. They are fundamentalists. Some of them are criminals. Some of them are powerful. Some of them are in the government, and they are playing political games with the fate of an innocent man.
The Independent, Mar. 12, 2009
The fact-finding team visited Afghanistan in January. “Media diversity is a reality that can be attributed to the policies of President Hamid Karzai and the international community, but at the same time there has been a constant increase in violence against the press and there is little evidence of a government commitment to combating it,” it found.
Taliban: The Taliban were to blame for much of the violence, but the security forces, local authorities and international military forces were also “guilty of seriously obstructing the work of journalists,” the report added. “As the international community debates the strategy to adopt in Afghanistan, Reporters Without Borders urges the Afghan authorities and all the parties to the conflict to make respect for press freedom a priority.” Pressure on the media could increase during the run-up to the presidential election, taking place in August, it feared. The report covered the crucial issues of journalists’ safety, the problems faced by women journalists, the media law that has not been implemented, the news “black holes” in the regions where the Taliban have an upper hand and finally manipulation of information about the war’s civilian casualties and the subsequent disputes.
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