Two radio stations have been closed and at least a dozen journalists arrested or attacked by police in various parts of Afghanistan since the start of the current year, an international group said on Wednesday.
Voicing its concern about an increase in harassment and violence against journalists and sanctions against news media, Reporters Without Borders said: “We urge the authorities to do their duty by guaranteeing journalists’ safety and respecting their right to report the news.”
Mistrust and accusatory attitudes toward journalists threatened freedom of information, the watchdog said in a statement. The threats and impunity for those who attacked journalists must end, it stressed.
Authorities often used vague terms, such allegations of acting against national interest, foreign accents and languages, are often used as a pretext for censorship and banning TV broadcasts, said the Paris-based organisation.
Now ranked 128th out of 179 countries, Afghanistan rose 22 positions in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
Radio Galat Jagh manager Taymour Shah Sahzadeh was detained by police for four hours in the southeastern province of Zabul on February 27. The station’s broadcasts have since been suspended.
Daikundi-based Radio Nassim was the victim of harassment and reprisals by the governor, the police chief and local representatives of the information and culture ministry on February 14, the statement added.
On February 24, 10 journalists were attacked by members of security services in Jalalabad on February 24 while trying to cover a suicide bombing. The reporters were prevented from entering the building.
Two days later, the Cabinet banned the use of foreign accents and languages on radio and TV, a decision that follows President Karzai’s directive to the information and culture ministry on October 1, 2012 to prosecute media acting against “the national interest.”