Afghanistan: Report reveals dire economic and safety situation for Afghan media workers

Research by the Afghanistan National Journalists Union (ANJU) sheds light on the grave situation facing journalists and media workers since the Taliban takeover of the country on August 14. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) commends the research by its affiliate in safeguarding transparency under the Taliban regime and condemns increasing attacks on press freedom and the safety of journalists in Afghanistan. 

Taliban forces working as police guard the entrance of a police district in Kabul on October 3, 2021. Credit: Wakil Koshar / AFP

The report, Reflecting the current situation of Afghan Journalists and Media Workers in Afghanistan, surveyed 1,379 journalists and media workers from 28 provinces. Confirming widely-held fears in terms of the safety and freedom of journalists and media workers in Afghanistan since the fall of Kabul, the findings expose the deleterious environment now confronting the Afghan media sphere.  

Specifically, the research highlights grave risks faced by female journalists, who comprise more than 67% of the journalists and media workers describing their lives as under threat. After paying lip service to women’s rights, the Taliban has since instructed media houses to cease women-led programming and removed female journalists from their posts.  

According to ANJU’s report, more than 70% of all respondents have received threats since the Taliban came to power nearly a month ago. The majority had been threatened verbally and 21% indicated they had been physically threatened. The report suggests that attacks against journalists and media workers are not only perpetrated by the Taliban, with unknown aggressors accounting for around 40% of attacks.  

The fallout of the international withdrawal has also dealt heavy economic implications on the industry as well as safety concerns. At least 67% of journalists and media workers surveyed have been rendered jobless since the Taliban assumed control. Media organisations have also been shuttered due to the collapse of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, with only 31% of media outlets remaining open. A lack of personal security and immunity was ranked as the highest concern by 41% of respondents, followed by financial stress and a lack of job security by 30% and 29% respectively.  

Orders limiting the capacity of Afghanistan’s media are mounting daily, with 11 sweeping media regulations instated on September 19 – that can be arbitrarily interpreted to censor broadcast content and restrict press freedom. At least five journalists have been killed since the Taliban takeover. A senior Afghan journalist and union leader told the IFJ that the fear of being arrested, attacked or killed for reporting in Afghanistan has become a daily reality.

The IFJ said: “The report’s findings, whilst not unexpected, shed further light on the relentless targeting of journalists and media workers under the Taliban regime, stifling the nation’s once-dynamic media industry. The IFJ commends the ANJU’s work in collecting critical information that highlights the extreme and immediate threats faced by journalists in Afghanistan and urges the international community to increase their assistance to ensure the safety of all media workers.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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