March 24, 2016
Kabul: Violence, threats and intimidation against journalists in Afghanistan have increased by 85% over the past 12 months.
Afghanistan Journalists Centre (AFJC) has released its annual report (covering March 21, 2015 to March 20, 2016 period), registering 191 incidents of violence, threats, intimidation and offences against journalists and media workers in Afghanistan, while there were only 103 incidents in the comparable period in 2014 to 2015.
AFJC released the report on the occasion of the National Journalist Day, calling the registered period as the most challenging one for journalists and media family in Afghanistan.
Speaking to a news conference, AFJC Executive Director Ahmad Quraishi expressed deep concern over the growing militant activities, insecurity and poor financial situation of the media community.
He said that during this period, 10 journalists and media workers including four women were killed of which nine of them were targeted by the Taliban group and unidentified gunmen and one died in an airstrike. AFJC also recorded 22 cases of injuries and 24 incidents of physical beating against journalists.
AFJC findings show that there were also 14 attempts of armed attacks and bombing against journalists and media outlets, 66 cases of threats, 22 cases of attempts to limit press freedom, 9 cases of offences, 3 cases of direct pressure for censorship, 6 cases of physical attack and 7 cases of illegal questioning over the past 12 months.
Quraishi added that as per the findings, 82 cases (43%) of violence were attributed to the government officials and security and military forces, and 52 incidents (27%) were carried out by the Taliban. Unidentified armed people were behind 34 incidents (17%) and five were linked to the fighters loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Media owners were responsible for two cases and NATO forces were accounted for one incident.
Quraishi warned that situation of journalists would get worse unless security gets improved in the country. He called on the Afghan government and the international community to take serious measures to protect journalists and press freedom.
As part of its initiative, AFJC marked the third annual “National Journalist Day” and honored journalists who made outstanding performance in the past 12 months. Mahroofa Zaki, a female journalist from ArianaNews TV channel was honored as the “Journalist of the Year” award and nine others were recognized by appreciation letters as top journalists of the year. .
AJFC commends the recent presidential decree for the safety of media workers. In January 31, 2016, after months of advocacy efforts, President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree to ensure journalists’ safety and access to accurate information. The Decree has been issued to provide protection for journalists and to launch investigation for cases of violence including the incidents of murders against journalists in Afghanistan.