April 22, 2015
Kabul: Afghanistan journalists Center (AFJC) expresses concern over continuing restriction of local officials on journalists’ access to information across the country.
On March 1, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said from now on nobody in the provinces is allowed to speak to the media, except police HQs heads. Same order released by the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) to the governors.
Officials at MoI and IDLG said the decision taken by of National Security Council that is headed by the president is aimed to bring greater coordination between government institutions regarding distribution of information to media; they are not going to implement any restrictions.
But the facts and figures on the ground from around the country depicts a degree of restraint exercised by corresponding officials in dispatching information, complicates the work of journalists who find minimal application of the Access to Information Law signed by President Ashraf Ghani.
Journalists complain from the provincial government spokespersons for their refusal of sharing information, while blocking their direct access to talk to governors or provincial police heads.
The restriction came four month after President Ashraf Ghani signed the Access to Information Bill, a constitutional right that was indeed a great achievement for Afghanistan. But it seems that officials found it a difficult task in practice.
Access to information is an important aspect for young Afghan democracy; however the recent actions by the Afghan authorities bring their sincere intention and commitment in implementation and enforcement of the law under question.
We urge the Afghan authorities, especially the newly elect minister of Information of Culture to ensure the information, especially that of public interest is reported freely and journalists and media are allowed to exercise their professional duties with full access to necessary information in a timely manner and with no restrictions.