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In Afghanistan, journalists concerned over information dearth under Taliban regime, call on government to resolve problem

04:36 PM Oct 19, 2021 | FPJ Web Desk

Kabul: The Journalists Association has called on the international organizations which stand for freedom of media to support and back the country's media, saying that there is a lack of access to information despite the introduction of spokespersons to the government departments.

They called on officials of the Islamic Emirate on Monday to take steps to resolve the problem faced by the journalists. According to Tolo News, calling access to information an "obstacle", the journalists have complained about the same.

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"It is really concerning. We call on international organizations that support the freedom of speech and media, and on the countries that have helped in the past, to support and back the Afghan media; otherwise, we will witness a great obstacle in the path of access to information in Afghanistan," said Hojatullah Mujadidi, deputy of the Afghan Independent Journalists Association.

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However, the deputy minister of information and culture, Zabiullah Mujahid clarified that the spokespersons would start interacting once they are done with their basic training, according to the news channel.

"As long as we are responsible, the cases are under investigation. Some of the people who were negligent toward the media were punished and introduced to the judicial system, but we haven't seen a big issue yet. There was some negligence for some reasons," Tolo News reported Mujahid as saying.

The deputy minister further said that some of the spokespersons will be in "direct" contact with the media once they are trained and graduated from the workshops, according to the news channel.

200 media organisations stop their activities

Based on initial findings, nearly 200 media organizations stopped their activities after the collapse of the former government. At least 70% of media outlets have stopped working in Afghanistan since the Taliban took control over the country due to financial problems, National Association of Journalists. According to media watchdog organizations, more than 60% of Afghan journalists lost their jobs since the fall of the former government.

The national association of journalists in a press conference in Kabul on October 3, said that they found the statistics after conducting an online survey in 28 provinces of Afghanistan, Khamma Press reported.

"40% of the Afghan journalists are worried about their safety in Afghanistan and rest of them are living a difficult life as they have lost their jobs," said Masroor Lutfi, head of the national association of journalists.

The Afghanistan National Journalists’ Union also reported that due to the financial crisis, around 150 print media outlets across Afghanistan have stopped printing newspapers and magazines since the fall of the former government, as per a report by TOLONews. Many of these outlets continue publishing news online, while some have shut down completely.

Ahmad Shoaib Fana, chief executive of the national journalists union, said: “Print media has stopped in the country. If the situation goes on like this, we will face a social crisis.”

The re-emergence of the Taliban in Afghanistan raised the concerns among many that journalists in the country would be targeted to silence dissent. Earlier, two Afghan journalists were beaten in police custody after covering a protest by women in Kabul.

At the first Taliban news conference on August 17 after the group took Kabul, Zabiullah Mujahid, said that media will remain "free and independent," provided they work according to "Islamic principles," and are fair and serve "national interests. "The Human Rights Watch said that Taliban authorities in Afghanistan have imposed wide-ranging restrictions on media and free speech that are already stifling criticism and dissent.

Taliban security forces have also arbitrarily detained journalists and beaten several. The head of a journalists' advocacy group told Human Rights Watch that the Taliban have taken at least 32 journalists into custody since they took power in Kabul on August 15, the Human Rights Watch said.

With inputs from agencies

Also Read: Torture, killing of journalists continue in Taliban-led Afghanistan

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