RSF: Afghan Journalists Face Increasing 'Harassment'

RSF: Afghan Journalists Face Increasing 'Harassment'

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Friday said journalists and media workers in Afghanistan are facing increasing ‘harassment’ from the intelligence department and are under pressure from the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.

RSF said the threats, interrogations, and arbitrary arrests of journalists have increased. These actions are in violation of Afghanistan’s press law, it said.

According to RSF, since the Islamic Emirate regained power in August last year, at least 50 journalists and media workers have been detained, lasting from several hours to nearly a week.

“Threatening to rip out journalists’ tongues in order to prevent them from covering certain subjects is completely unacceptable,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran-Afghanistan desk. “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.”

According to RSF, the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice has also issued a decree in November last year defining certain rules for media in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, the International Federation of Journalists also raised concerns on the status of media in Afghanistan, saying at least 318 media outlets have closed since the fall of the Western-backed government in 33 of 34 provinces in Afghanistan.

“The crisis has hit newspapers the hardest with just 20 out of 114 continuing to publish,” the report read. “51 TV stations, 132 radio stations and 49 online media outlets have ceased operations according to the report compiled for the IFJ.”

The Islamic Emirate, however, reacting to these reports, said it is committed to supporting press freedom. “The Islamic Emirate is committed to freedom of the press. The media have also an obligation to stay impartial and remain committed to religious and national values,” Islamic Emirate spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter. He said the Islamic Emirate is trying to remove obstacles in the way of media.