Journalists in Afghan east complain of threats

Kabul, 7 Jul 2010

Jalalabad: Journalists in the eastern provinces say they are being threatened while carrying out their jobs and have accused officials of withholding information.

Up to 50 journalists from the provinces of Konar, Nangarhar and Laghman, as well as representatives from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) took part in a meeting on Monday in Jalalabad.

The journalists discussed the challenges they faced in carrying out their work, the head of the journalists and reporters association in the east, Lal Pacha Azmun, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

A reporter for Radio Liberty in Konar Province, Rohullah Anwari, said that Afghan officials and international forces rarely gave them full and timely details about security incidents.

He said they often provided information two or three days after an event had happened, which negated the impact of reporting the news.
Parwez Romal, a journalist for Reuters news agency in Nangarhar, said he had been receiving threatening phone calls over the past few days.

He also said he never knew what the security would be like when he went to report from a blast scene.

A reporter for Ariana TV, Rahmatollah Ziarmal, accused provincial officials of acting "like a step-mother" towards journalists, taking the calls of those who write nice things about them, but ignoring those who are critical.
Another Radio Liberty reporter, Sher Shah Hamdard, also complained about late and inaccurate information from officials. Reporters also had difficulties travelling to remote areas due to security concerns, and were threatened by both officials and the militants, he said.

Azmun read out a resolution agreed by the journalists in which they called on all sides to provide factual and impartial information and assure the safety of reporters.
The resolution letter also stated that the government and coalition troops should allow reporters to cover security incidents; that witnesses and evidence from the area should not be removed and that the information should be relayed on time.

The statement also held reporters accountable to publish all sides of the story.