A new report by Reporters without Borders has shown that journalists in Afghanistan are facing increased harassment from the Taliban.
The report says that the Taliban regime known as ‘Istikhbarat’, and the Ministry for Promoting Virtue and Suppressing Vice are cited for violating Afghanistan’s press law under which journalists operate.
“Reporters Without Borders condemns the surge in threats, summons for interrogation and arbitrary arrests to which journalists and media outlets have been subjected for the past two months in Afghanistan,” the statement by the Paris-based organisation said.
At least 50 journalists and media practitioners are reported to have been arrested or detained since the Taliban swept into power in August last year.
Most of the arrests occurred when journalists were covering or reporting about demonstrations and street protests against the new regime, the report states.
Others are reported to have received threatening calls in the course of their work.
“Journalists must be able to practice their profession without being under a permanent threat of arrest and torture. These unlawful threats, which violate Afghanistan’s media legislation, are all the more horrifying for coming at a time of growing harassment and increasingly restrictive rules for the right to news and information,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran-Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is ranked 122nd out of 180 countries in the latest World Press Freedom Index which RSF issued in April 2021.
Over 300 media outlets closed in Afghanistan under Taliban rule
More than 300 media outlet have been shut under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, a devastating blow to democracy since August when they took over.
A report by the International Federation of Journalists shows that the media houses were closed in 33 out of 34 provinces.
Worst hit are newspapers with 20 out of 114 remaining in operation.
The sudden closures has rendered more than 3,000 journalists jobless leaving only about 2,334 at work.
72 per cent of those who lost their jobs are women in the country where women increasingly suffer from oppression and other rights violations.
“From threats to draconian restrictions and from economic collapse to the withdrawal of development funding, the picture is catastrophic, not just for journalists who have lost their jobs or been forced to flee but also for citizens who are being denied access to information,” said Antony Bellanger, IFJ Secretary.
Journalists in the country have urged the international community to intervene and restore democracy in the country
“We call on the international community to invest in media to protect the process of access to information in the current Afghan situation,” said Hafizullah Barakzai who heads the Afghanistan Journalists Council.