RSF urges UN action to protect Afghan journalists

Governance & Politics

RSF urges UN action to protect Afghan journalists

KABUL (Pajhwok): Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has urged the UN’s new special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Afghanistan to take urgent action to defend journalists and press freedom in the war-torn country.

In a letter to Richard Bennett on Monday, the Paris-based organisation wrote arbitrary arrests were on the rise and a climate of fear had taken hold in all media outlets in Afghanistan.

RSF drew Bennett’s attention to the media law still in effect, the worsening press freedom situation and new restrictions imposed on media outlets.

It said the new curbs included an information ministry decree banning privately-owned TV channels from retransmitting news programmes provided by the BBC, Voice of America and Deutsche Welle in local languages.

RSF quoted a ministry spokesman as blaming the ban on “the problem of the attire worn by these media’s women presenters, after several warnings.”

The group claimed the intelligence services (Istikhbarat) could ban broadcasts and programmes and could go directly to media outlets to arrest journalists or other employees.

“At least 50 media workers were arrested by the Afghan police and intelligence services from August 15, 2021 to February 4, 2022,” it added.

RSF advocacy and assistance director Antoine Bernard said: “From the new UN special rapporteur on Afghanistan, we expect the maximum possible involvement in support of free, pluralist and independent journalism.”

In the World Press Freedom Index that RSF published in April 2021, Afghanistan is ranked 122nd out of 180 countries.


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