Afghanistan

Afghan Journalists Safety Committee: Six Month Report 2019 (January - June)

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Summary

During the first six months of 2019, AJSC has recorded 45 cases of violence against journalists and media workers, which includes 3 cases of murder, 6 cases of injury, 5 cases of physical assault, 19 cases of verbal abuse, 9 cases of intimidation and one case of illegal expulsion from duty. Individuals affiliated with the government are responsible for majority of the cases of violence, namely 18 cases. Terrorist groups (Taliban and ISIS) come second, as they are responsible for 7 cases. Unidentified individuals rank third, as they are responsible for 16 cases, and media managers being responsible for 3 cases rank last.

During the reporting period, majority of the cases of violence, which constitute 15 cases, took place in southeastern provinces of the country.

Although the number of incidences of violence and threat against journalists show 50% decline during the first six months of 2019 compared to that of last year, it does not indicate a significant alleviation of the overall state of threat against journalists and media, as the perpetrators still manifest a great amount of intimidation against media outlets and journalists. For instance, in June 2019, in a press statement, the Taliban presented a harsh threat ordering media outlets to refrain from airing advertisements related to the Afghan government, security forces and those ads that highlight the atrocities of this group. the reduction of violence against journalists could be attributed to improved safety measures by journalists and media outlets, peace talks, provision of safety gear for journalists by AJSC, operative degradation of ISIS militants and consistent advocacy by media support organizations which has compelled the government to expand their efforts towards safety of journalists and media outlets.

the latest threat of the Taliban against media has exacerbated self-censorship among media outlets. Many media organizations refrain from airing atrocities of the Taliban because of the fear of retribution by the Taliban. Since the threat has coerced many media outlets to stop airing government and international community sponsored ads, it has further aggravated the financial challenges that media outlets already faced.

Based on AJSC’s observation, journalists still go to terrorist sites without necessary safety equipment and safety preparations. This is despite the fact that AJSC has distributed more than 200 pairs of armored vests and helmets to journalists and media outlets. Journalists and media outlets need to incorporate safety precautions in their daily activities. The lack of mentioning of press freedom and journalist safety in the resolution released after the meeting between the Taliban and Afghanistan representatives in Doha is a matter of concern. This is particularly of importance considering the ideological opposition of the Taliban to press freedom and their continued hostility with media and journalists.