Afghanistan, Vietnam and Russia have been named as the most dangerous nations for journalists, the Afghanistan-based Khaama Press reported, citing Reporters Without Borders. The report published on December 31, said that free media in Afghanistan under the Taliban’s rule has faced severe oppression. It stated that the Taliban has been arresting journalists on charges of espionage.
In its report, Reporters Without Border said that there were at least 21 cases of journalist arrests in Afghanistan in 2023. It further said that at least three journalists are still in ‘Taliban prison.’
The report is prepared on the basis of indicators like freedom, independence of media, tolerance of the power base, security of journalists and the environment for revealing critical content. According to the report, countries like Vietnam, Russia, and Afghanistan are at the top of the list of nations that are dangerous for journalists.
As many as 779 journalists have been detained for at least a short period in 2023. Of these, 547 journalists continue to remain in prison in various nations across the world.
In its annual report on the situation of journalists in Afghanistan, the Afghanistan Journalists Center said that it registered 168 cases of journalists’ rights violations in the country.
It further said that the cases lodged at this centre include death, injury, threats, and arrests of journalists in Afghanistan. Furthermore, at least eight cases of media activity bans have also been lodged in 2023.
Meanwhile, the Afghanistan Journalists Center stated that in 2023, there were 61 reported incidents of journalist arrests, 78 cases of threats, and one death and 19 injuries among journalists, Khaama Press reported.
The Afghanistan Journalists Centre said that “in 2023, the recorded cases of violation of the rights of journalists and the media show a significant decrease compared to the 260 events recorded in 2022, but there is no change in terms of quality and structure,” TOLO News reported.
This occurs concurrently with an appeal from media professionals and journalists for the Taliban to move decisively to address the current issues that media personnel continue to face in the country under the Taliban.
“All of the activities belonging to the media and journalists should be pursued through the commission of media violations, and this commission should be incentivised and any media and journalists who commit a violation should be investigated through this commission,” said Rasul Shahzad, a journalist.
“The Government should increase access to information. The economy of media organisations should be empowered and supported,” another journalist, Mustafa Sharyar said. However, the Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, said that no media has come under pressure and that it is “freely active.”
“Some of the cases that happened in 2023 were because of violations. Sometimes, journalists have been arrested for criminal activities or legal cases for a temporary period of time. The detention has not been permanent,” TOLO News quoted him as saying.
It has become extremely tedious for journalists and media outlets in Afghanistan to report under the Taliban due to strict regulations, as journalists are restricted to covering security issues like explosions and suicide attacks.
After seizing power in Afghanistan, the Taliban promised that the media would be free and independent to operate across the country. However, new rules were imposed a month later that strictly monitor and censor journalists and the media. The short-lived media freedom was gone after the initial weeks of Taliban rule.
(with inputs from ANI)