Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the Afghan Independent
Journalists’ Association (AIJA), announce the release of a new report which
outlines the challenges for journalists and press freedom in Afghanistan since the lead-up to
the country’s elections in 2009 and 2010.
The report, Journalism
in Times of War: Press Freedom in Afghanistan 2008-2011, was prepared
with the support of the European Union (EU) and documents how journalism in Afghanistan
continues to be scarred by seemingly endless conflict, despite making rapid
strides in a changing environment.
Among the most significant
achievements of journalists in Afghanistan
is that they have put in place a nascent media rights monitoring network, with
the most serious instances of media rights violations reported to a world
audience, the report says. This has been accomplished with the invaluable
support of the international donor community.
“Journalism in Afghanistan has moved forward
significantly over the past decade, compressing into a short period a learning
experience that has taken much longer in other countries with less difficult legal
and political environments,” IFJ Asia-Pacific
Director Jacqueline Park said.
“Yet Journalism in Times of War stresses that threats remain in the
culture of violence in the country, which could undermine the gains registered
“Media sustainability, too, may not
be achieved for long, failing the continuing commitment of the international
A mapping of media rights violations
since 2008 seems to suggest a decline in the hazards that journalists face. But
the decline in physical hazards, though of some consequence, does not yet mean
that journalism is able to function in a congenial environment.
Threats from non-state armed groups
remain a constant danger. And state agencies are often known to respond
adversely to legitimate critical commentary in the media, commonly putting the
liberty of journalists at risk.
For all the years since the fall of
the Taliban Islamic regime, independent media in Afghanistan expanded and diversified,
though without a coherent regulatory framework or governance structure.
media law was formally granted presidential assent in July 2009. Yet there was
a delay of two months in publishing the full text of the Act and there have been
disagreements ever since on the mode of its implementation.
In this regulatory vacuum, various
political interest groups, members of parliament and leaders of non-state
militias have begun their own media operations.
Professionalism is also impeded by
the incursion of ethnic and partisan calculations into the functioning of the
media. Independent media, in the strict sense, have very slender chances of
survival because of the lack of advertising support. The many media outlets
that have established a credible niche for their professional reporting and
content remain dependent on donor agencies. The more partisan media can count
on subventions from political groups, though this does little to enhance the
credibility of the media as an institution.
in Times of War is the second report prepared by the IFJ with the
AIJA, following publication of Growth
Under Adversity, released in 2008.
The English version of the report is
now available at http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/pages/ifj-asia-pacific-reports.
Dari and Pashto versions will be available in late June.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +61 2 9333 0919
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
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