Kabul, Jan 14 (efe-epa).- Afghan journalists continue to work under harsh circumstances amid growing violence targeting the press that killed 11 media workers last year, a media watchdog said in a report released on Thursday.
The nonprofit, Nai, said it recorded 130 cases of violence against journalists in 2020, compared to 115 a year ago.
“In general, violence against journalists in Afghanistan is on rise and increased by 10 percent in 2020 comparing to 2019,” said Mujib Khilwatgar, who heads the watchdog that supports open media in Afghanistan.
Khilwatgar told reporters that 11 journalists were murdered, 20 wounded in violent incidents last year.
Other forms of violence include temporary detentions, kidnappings, life threats, and intimidation to prevent media workers from carrying out their work.
He said the nonprofit found that the violence against journalists in 2020 was “more systematic and planned” as compared to the past 19 years.
“Every day, we lose one of our journalist or member of the civil society,” he said, referring to a wave of targeted killings in the country.
Khilwatgar said journalists suffered indirect attacks previously.
Afghanistan has been witnessing for months a series of unprecedented targeted attacks on journalists, activists, politicians, and intellectuals in Afghanistan, where shootings or bombings on victims’ vehicles have become almost a daily routine in the country.
Khilwatgar such violence had left “negative and destructive effects and consequences” on journalists and press freedom in the country.
It had also forced some journalists to leave the country while others turned to self-censorship, he said, adding some 60 journalists had reportedly quit media in the past two weeks.
He warned that if the government did not take steps to prevent such violence “more journalists may flee the country.”
The government, he alleged, “is not doing enough” to ensure the security of the journalists.
“We are not satisfied with the work of the government.”
Khilwatgar also said 2020 was the worst for Afghan journalists in the past 19 years in terms of getting access to information.
The watchdog has registered lots of complaints against government officials who refused to give or limited the flow of information to the media.
“The situation of access to information reached to its worst phase in 2020 comparing to the past 19 years,” Khilwatgar claimed.
The Afghan government has been touting freedom of speech and free media among its major achievement in the past 19 years after the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001 following the US invasion.
The Taliban are widely accused of restricting the freedom of speech and media activities when they ruled the country from 1996 to 2001.
There was only one radio station during their rule.