Afghan journalists appeal to Karzai for protection
REUTERS AFGHANISTAN’S media representatives are appealing to the government to protect the rights of journalists who are facing a growing number of violent threats in what they see as an undeclared campaign against media freedom.
War and an atmosphere of impunity make Afghanistan one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist.
The Taliban often regard reporters as their enemies and many officials are suspicious of a prying press.
Despite media freedom being protected by the constitution, the relatively large, often Western-backed press corps can face intimidation, abduction or even death for reporting on issues such as corruption and other government failings.
“Day by day, it is getting worse. No one is here to support reporters,” Sediq Zalique, head of investigative reporting at national daily ‘8 am’, told Reuters on Friday.
Zalique said he had received several threatening phone calls from unidentified men in what he believes was a response to his articles revealing corruption and drug-running by officials.
Many Afghans view the government as deeply corrupt.
Some media hold back from publishing stories they know will attract the government’s ire. Reporters at Afghan news agency Pajhwok are resorting to self-censorship to avoid the fate of colleagues who have been beaten and detained.
Three have been killed over the last decade, its editor-inchief Danish Karokhil told Reuters, adding that the government had to act to protect the media.
Some government officials acknowledge that authorities are not doing enough.
“The Afghan government simply needs to do more to protect media freedoms,” Deputy Minister of Information and Culture Deen Mohammad Mubarez Rashidi told an awards ceremony on Thursday honouring slain radio journalist Sadim Khan Bhadurzoy, who was kidnapped and beheaded in eastern Paktika province in February.