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Impunity culture hits media freedom in Afghanistan: AFJC

Kabul – I November 2018 –  As many as 102 journalists and media workers lost their lives in Afghanistan since the collapse of the Taliban regime 2001, according to the Afghanistan Journalists Center(AFJC). In 95% of cases the perpetrators go unpunished.

Of these, at least 74 were killed by the IS(Daesh) and the Taliban-mostly targeted- 21 by unknown individual or criminal groups, 3 by NATO forces, 3 by family or relatives and one by Afghan police.

According to the Afghanistan Journalists Center(AFJC) these journalists and media workers lost their lives in targeted killings, bomb attacks, or in the cross-fire and armed conflicts across the country.

Mirwais Jalil, Mahmoud Saremi, Marc Brunereau, Johanne Sutton, Pierre Billaud, Volker Handloik, Maria Grazia Cutuli, Azizullah Haidari, Harry Burton, Julio Fuentes, Ulf Strömberg, Christian Struwe, Karen Fischer, Shima Rezayee, Maiwand, AbdulQudus, Rahman Qul, Ajmal Naqshbandi, Sayed Agha, Shakiba Sanga Amaj, Zakia Zaki, Abdul Monir, Carsten Thomassen, Sammad Ruhani, Javid Ahmad, Sultan Mohammad Munadi, Michelle Lang, Ropert Hamer, Sayed Hamid Noori, Rafiq Azizi, Omaid Khpalwak, Farhad Taqadusi, Jafar Wafa, Sadam Khan Bahadorzoi, Abdul Hadi Hamdard, Donya Zakeri, and Muzammil Sadeqi except Jalil and Seremi  were killed after the collapse of Taliban regime in 2001.

Mohsin Hashemi, Noor Ahmad Noori, Shahed Naimi, Nils Horner, Ahmad Sardar, Anja Niedringhaus, Khalid Yaqobi, Palwasha Tokhi, Zubair Hatami, Aqil Mohammad Weqar, Zabihullah Pashtonyar, Amanullah Atayee, Ali Mohammadi, Hussain Amiri, Jawad Hussaini, Mohammad Hussain, Mahri Azizi, Maryam Ibrahimi and Zainab Mirzayee were other journalists and media actors killed since the last 17 years in Afghanistan.

Zubair Khaksar, Yaqob Sharafat, David Gilkey, Zabihullah Tamanna, Niamatullah Zahir, Nasir Mudassir, Noorullah, Faridah, Abdul Latif, Mohammad Amir, Abdul Ghani, Zainullah, Habibullah Hosainzadah, Mohammad Nazir, Aziz Nawin and Omar Arghandiwal, Abdul Hamid Ramazani, Hosain Ali Nazari, Naqibullah, Ghulam Reza Big, Khadem Hosain, Abdul Raouf Mahdawi, Khodadad Ahmadi, Andalib Ziyayee, Hosain Hasani, Reza Bahrami, Khalil Rezayee, Haidar Nazari, Mahdi Mosawi, Abdul Mannan Arghand, Shahmari Faizi, Yarmohammad Tokhi, Qazi Rsouli, NouruzAli Khamosh, Abdullah Hannanzai, Mahram Durani, Sabawoon Kakar, Ali Salimi, Salim Talash, AhmadShah, Mohammad Akhtar, Ataullah Rahimi, Samim Faramarz, Ramez Ahmadi and Salim Angar were also among those killed.

Main while, Janullah Hashemzada and Anwar Salehi, Afghan journalists shot dead in Pakistan.

Killing journalists in last resort to censorship and the culture of impunity posed a serious threat to freedom of expression and independent media in Afghanistan.

In 2016, after AFJC’s series of nationwide campaigns, the Afghan government in cooperation with the journalists’ federation created a coordinating body in Kabul and provincial sub-committees in all remaining 33 provinces to address the impunity concern.

The committee consisting of government officials from ministries of information and culture, interior, defense, foreign affairs, justice, attorney general office, directorate of local governance, national directorate of security (intelligence agency) and representatives of journalists’ associations were tasked to follow all the cases of violence, threat, insult, harassment and abuse occurred in the country, in particular since the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001 and also to take measureable actions to protect journalists and media outlets.

But according to AFJC, the Afghan government is failing to investigate the killings of journalists.

“Of more than 104 cases, the cases of only 8 journalists went to court for trial of which prosecution and trial was concluded in six cases only and conviction handed in five cases only” said Afghanistan Journalists Center(AFJC) executive director Ahmad Quraishi

“Impunity for crimes against journalists gives a license for more violence in Afghanistan, the perpetrators of crimes against journalists should not believe they are above the law. A culture of impunity must be challenged” Mr. Quraishi added

AFJC executive director said” We can’t tolerate further negligence in the prosecution of those involved in acts of violence against journalists, the culture of impunity should end now the organization wants law enforcement in Afghanistan to pursue the cases of killing and violence against journalists more rigorously

 

Afghan President Ghani Re-Launches Journalist Support Fund

17 October 2018

Kabul--President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday said the National Unity Government is not at odds with the media and that government and the media should work together and be committed to implementing the law.

Ghani made the remarks at the re-launch of the Journalists Support Fund at the Presidential Palace – a fund that will help members of the media including families of those killed.

Ghani in turn donated five million AFs of his own money to the fund and the Ministry of Finance pledged to donate 10 million AFs. (about $200,000)

President said government and the media needs to work together, because they have shared goals - which is the strengthening of the peoples’ rights.

“We are not in confrontation between government and media. Our shared goal is strengthening citizens’ rights that have been granted to every Afghan through the constitution,” said Ghani.

Ghani did however say that media owners in Afghanistan were not implementing the labor law properly and were not respecting the rights of journalists.

Ghani also said media companies need to introduce insurance policies for journalists.

“(Media) to a high extent have not implemented the labor law. Now is the time to take an active part in establishing insurance (policies) for journalists. It is not acceptable that media steps on the law. When you do not pay tax, it is another issue, but when the rights of journalists are not respected, the law should be implemented against media owners,” said Ghani.

President also said the media should not violate laws and that laws should be enforced on media owners.

Ghani said government will not interfere in Saturday’s elections adding that the results of the elections should be acceptable to the nation.

“It is an obvious need that the results should be acceptable to the great nation of Afghanistan. We appreciate the role of people and the vast role of candidates,” Ghani said.

Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish meanwhile said at the ceremony that the media should stay away from political games adding that they should not behave as a political opposition.

“(Media) should try not to be involved in political games and not act as a political opposition,” said Danish.ToloNews

 

Afghanistan Jumps to Top Position on RTI Rating

29 September 2018

In an exciting development, Afghanistan has replaced Mexico at the very top of the RTI Rating, with an impressive score of 139 points out of a possible 150, or 93%. Mexico is now in second place, with 136 points, followed by Serbia with 135 and Sri Lanka with 131. An updated version of the RTI Rating website was launched today, International Right to Know Day, with ratings for 123 countries, up from the 111 that were hosted on the old site.

The RTI Rating is a sophisticated methodology for assessing the strength of the legal framework for the right to information (RTI), developed by the Centre for Law and Democracy (Canada) and Access Info Europe (Spain). Every country which has adopted a national RTI law is ranked on the RTI Rating in due course.

It is tremendous that Afghanistan has passed such an incredibly strong RTI law,” said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy. “Although implementation is always a challenge, this law will at least give the country the tools it needs to ensure its citizens can access information from public authorities.”

Countries from the Global South dominate the top of the RTI Rating, with not a single Western country in the top 25. All but one of the countries in the top 25 positions adopted their laws since 2000, reflecting the fact that RTI laws are, on average, getting stronger and stronger as time goes on. Sustainable Development Goal Indicator 16.10.2 sets the adoption and implementation of an RTI law as a common standard of achievement for all States, which has given new impetus to the advancement of this human right. Source: Centre for Law and Democracy

 

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