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Taliban set to issue norms for journalists to work in Afghanistan

by | Oct 11, 2022 | Afghanistan

200 media outlets have stopped operations, and 7,000 media persons lost jobs in one year.

The Afghanistan government officials of the Ministry of Information and Culture assured the worried media persons that implementing laws about the mass media and access to information is taking place. The press will have access to the information, including the official media.

Tolo News agency of Afghanistan, quoting Hayatullah Mahajer Farahi, the press deputy of the Ministry of Information and Culture, said that media laws are being looked into and will have slight changes and soon be available to the media.

“The prior law has been sent to the leadership of the Islamic Emirate with a slight change, and after its confirmation and approval by the leadership, it will be accessible to all media,” Farahi said.

Journalist organisations have welcomed the Ministry’s step forward, saying, “without any surety and law, it was becoming difficult for them to work in the field. ”

Journalists have faced multiple challenges since the new government took over around 14 months ago. Several vernacular newspapers and television centres are closed due to restrictions imposed by the new government, more so without any concrete State media laws, and secondly, with the spiralling down economy of the country.

After the Taliban came to power last year, the Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid assured the media that their government is committed to freedom of speech. However, the media has been subjected to multiple restrictions.

Media persons continue to seek official guarantees, like the ones that existed before. They have even offered the government help to draw up a framework that would make journalists start feeling confident and work in the field without any fear.

“It is excellent that laws, which were in effect during the previous government, should also remain under this government,” said Mohsen Karimi, a journalist. Meanwhile, local officials in the province of Herat, directed all governmental organizations to give reporters and the media relevant information.

Media has suffered in Afghanistan.

Local media news agencies reported that hundreds of media organizations are closed, and thousands of journalists, including women, are unemployed. Hundreds of Afghan journalists have left the county, and few are working for the Afghanistan newspaper from a distance.

The Afghanistan Federation of Journalists and Media earlier had expressed concerns over the media situation. Around 200 media outlets had ceased operations and 7,000 media workers had lost their jobs in the past year.

“In the last year, out of 544 media outlets, 218 of them were closed, and out of 1,200 media workers, 7,000 of them lost their jobs,” said Hujatullah Mujaddidi, head of the Free Association of Afghan Journalists.

After the Taliban took over the reign of power, they sent letters to the media saying that the Taliban should be named “Islamic Emirate.” Dozens of dictates were sent to the press over the last year, imposing new restrictions on media outlets. A recent decree ordered female presenters to wear masks while they appear on the screen.

Reporters Sans Borders, in a report, said that 219 media organizations out of 547 had stopped their activities due to economic challenges or imposing restrictions.

Most journalists are not being paid because of the country’s worsening economic situation. It is also becoming difficult for them to take care of their families to provide them with food and other essential items.

Women lost jobs
According to the Afghanistan Federation of Journalists and Media, more than 2,800 women were employed in the Afghan media before the Islamic Emirate came to power. Still, more than 2,100 have lost their jobs since last year.

“With the closing of these media organisations, around 12,000 media workers–2,100 of them female employees–lost their jobs,” said Hojatullah Mujadidi, chairman of the Afghan Independent Journalists Association.

Two journalists were killed, 92 were detained, and 130 cases of violence against journalists reported.

The Union of Freelance Journalists of Afghanistan said that more than 130 cases of violence against journalists had been registered, and 92 journalists and media workers had been detained. According to the available statistics, two journalists were killed, and four others were wounded over the past year. For fear for their lives, hundreds of journalists have also left the country and settled in scattered countries.

Surinder Singh Oberoi
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