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IFJ condemns increasing attacks on press freedom and safety of journalists in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan

October 08, 2021 11:57 AM

Kabul, Journalists and media workers in Afghanistan are facing a grave situation since the Taliban takeover of the country, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has said, and condemned the increasing attacks on press freedom and the safety of journalists in Afghanistan.

Citing research by the Afghanistan National Journalists Union (ANJU), it said the report, 'Reflecting the current situation of Afghan Journalists and Media Workers in Afghanistan', confirms widely-held fears in terms of the safety and freedom of journalists and media workers in Afghanistan since the fall of Kabul on August 15.

The ANUJ surveyed 1,379 journalists and media workers from 28 provinces across the country. The IFJ said the findings of its affiliate expose the deleterious environment now confronting the Afghan media sphere.

The research highlights the grave risks faced by female journalists, who comprise more than 67% of the journalists and media workers, describing their lives as under threat.

After paying lip service to women’s rights, the Taliban has since instructed media houses to cease women-led programming and removed female journalists from their posts.

According to ANJU’s report, more than 70% of all respondents have received threats since the Taliban came to power nearly a month ago. The majority had been threatened verbally and 21% indicated they had been physically threatened. The report suggests that attacks against journalists and media workers are not only perpetrated by the Taliban, with unknown aggressors accounting for around 40% of attacks.

The fallout of the international withdrawal has also dealt heavy economic implications on the media industry as well as safety concerns. At least 67% of journalists and media workers surveyed have been rendered jobless since the Taliban assumed control.

Media organisations have also been shuttered due to the collapse of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, with only 31% of media outlets remaining open. A lack of personal security and immunity was ranked as the highest concern by 41% of respondents, followed by financial stress and a lack of job security by 30% and 29% respectively.

Orders limiting the capacity of Afghanistan’s media are mounting daily, with 11 sweeping media regulations instated on September 19 – which can be arbitrarily interpreted to censor broadcast content and restrict press freedom.

At least five journalists have been killed since the Taliban takeover. A senior Afghan journalist and union leader told the IFJ that the fear of being arrested, attacked or killed for reporting in Afghanistan has become a daily reality.

The IFJ said: “The report’s findings, whilst not unexpected, shed further light on the relentless targeting of journalists and media workers under the Taliban regime, stifling the nation’s once-dynamic media industry. The IFJ commends the ANJU’s work in collecting critical information that highlights the extreme and immediate threats faced by journalists in Afghanistan and urges the international community to increase their assistance to ensure the safety of all media workers.”

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