Kabul, Apr 1 (efe-epa).- The nonprofit Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounced Thursday an increase in Taliban attacks on media professionals, since the start of intra-Afghan peace talks in Qatar some seven months ago.
The insurgents have developed “a pattern of threats, intimidation, and violence” against journalists in the Asian country, where 11 media personnel were killed in 2020 alone, HRW said in its latest report.
These threats, often accompanied by precise details about the life and families of reporters, have fostered an atmosphere of self-censorship and sometimes have forced journalists to even leave their profession completely.
Sometimes the refusal to pay heed to the threat results in loss of life in what is considered the most dangerous country of reporters.
“No media workers feel safe,” especially outside the major cities where there is less security, according to the report.
Women journalists, particularly those working on television or radio, are threatened “not only for issues they cover but also for challenging perceived social norms prohibiting women from being in a public role and working outside the home.”
As a result, the nonprofit Afghan Journalists Safety Committee reported on Mar.8 that the number of women in the media had fallen by 18 percent in six months due to increasing violence and financial problems.
“By silencing critics through threats and violence, the Taliban have undermined hopes for preserving an open society in Afghanistan,” HRW associate Asia director Patricia Gossman said in the report.
HRW, after interviewing 46 Afghan journalists located in several provinces, concluded that local insurgent commanders have “considerable autonomy” in carrying out killings.
In recent months the country has experienced increase in fighting and a wave of selective killings against journalists, activists, politicians and intellectuals.
Meanwhile, the insurgents, from their political office in Qatar, have repeatedly denied responsibility for the violence against media professionals.
“It’s not enough for Taliban officials in Doha to issue blanket denials that they’re targeting journalists when Taliban forces on the ground continue to intimidate, harass, and attack reporters for doing their jobs,” Gossman said.
According to the nonprofit Nai, dedicated to monitoring press freedom in Afghanistan, at least 130 cases of violence against journalists were recorded in 2020, including the murders of 11 media workers. EFE-EPA