Media restrictions outside Afghan urban areas harsher: HRW
Kabul, Mar 7 (EFE).- Taliban officials are threatening, detaining, and beating Afghan journalists, and the situation outside major urban areas is even worse, Human Rights Watch said in a report Monday.
The rights group said the de facto government official had carried out far-reaching censorship and violence against Afghan media in the district and provincial centers.
“The situation facing journalists outside Kabul appears much worse than inside the capital, particularly for women,” the HRW report said.
It said journalists in the provinces spoke of Taliban members threatening, detaining, and beating them and their colleagues for trying to report the news.
“Many journalists have felt compelled to self-censor and report only Taliban statements and official events. Women journalists have faced the most intense repression.”
Fereshta Abbasi, an Afghanistan researcher at Human Rights Watch, said that the harassment of journalists outside major urban areas had gone unreported.
“In many provinces, the Taliban have virtually eliminated reporting on a wide range of issues and have driven women journalists out of the profession,” Abbasi said.
She recalled Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid telling a media advocacy group that journalists should consider “national interests, Islamic values, and national unity” before publishing.
“But journalists throughout Afghanistan have said that the Taliban severely restrict their work in violation of the Afghan media law and international human rights standards on freedom of expression and the media,” HRW noted.
An estimated 80 percent of women journalists across Afghanistan have lost their jobs or left the profession since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, and hundreds of media outlets have closed.
The rights group said it spoke with 24 journalists and other media workers in 17 of the country’s 34 provinces to learn about conditions outside of Kabul.
Journalists in each of these provinces said the Taliban actively monitor their publications and compel them to share the content of their reports with the provincial information officials.
Many journalists said Taliban men beat them for trying to report on anti-Taliban protests, arbitrary detention, rising food prices, and other subjects that cast Taliban officials in a bad light.
“Getting the news from Afghanistan’s rural areas has never been easy, but the Taliban’s repression of the media in the provinces is dangerous both for the journalists and the people whose lives are harmed by unreported abuses,” Abbasi said.
“Governments should press the Taliban to end to all attacks on the media, whether in Kabul or the countryside.” EFE