Curbs on press freedom are mounting

KABUL (SW) – Press freedom activists and journalists believe curbs are mounting with every passing day under the rule of the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan.

Some journalists say restrictions on the media have increased since the Islamic Emirate came to power, undermining normal media functioning and freedom of speech. According to the journalists, the activities of some government institutions are weak and they do not provide accurate and necessary information to the journalists.

These journalists, who are based in Kabul, Balkh and Ghor provinces, say that it is difficult to get information from the spokespersons of the Islamic Emirate and their non-cooperation has caused the prepared reports to remain unpublished.

“The government is not cooperating with journalists as much as it should,” said Marjan, a Kabul journalist. “This makes journalism challenging. First-hand sources do not cooperate with us, they are not being present to be accountable for the balance of the reports, and in many cases a balance is needed in news reports”, she added.

“Unfortunately, in addition to all the challenges facing the media and journalists, one of the restrictions is the right of access to information,” said Sibghatullah Turan, a Balkh-based journalist. “Journalists do not have free access to information. All the departments in Balkh have only one or two spokespersons, and the other institutions are not accountable at all.”

“The challenges are getting worse every day,” said Zabihullah Wafa, a Ghor-based journalist. “Our expectation is that the Islamic Emirate will provide a better environment for journalists and the media so that we can conduct journalism properly.”

Commenting on this, Masrur Lutfi, head of the Afghanistan’s National Journalists Union (ANJU) agreed that journalists do not have access to first hand information and this has caused them many problems.

“Unfortunately, access to information has been limited recently and this is worrying,” he told Salam Watandar. “We urge the Islamic Emirate to work on this system, as in its early days, to provide information to journalists, and to compel the authorities to provide timely information to journalists.”

Spokesmen for the Islamic Emirate did not respond to a request for comment.