Afghan Authorities Must Respect Journalists During Elections

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA) in condemning a police attack on a group of journalists working in the western province of Herat on July 29.


The journalists have been identified by the AIJA Herat office as Ariana TV reporter Fawad Ahmadi, Reuters reporter Jalil Ahmad Rezai, Saba TV reporter Sayed Abdullah, Tolo TV reporter Reza Shir Mohammad and Sharaf-u-din Stanekzai from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty(RFERL).


The journalists were reportedly attacked by police as they attempted to cover a public demonstration against the killing of a fruit seller in Herat District 7 by a police officer on July 29.


Two journalists in the group told the AIJA the police officers aggressively assaulted them and confiscated their equipment by force. Sharaf-u-din-Stanekzai was also briefly detained, the AIJA said.


Uniformed police and personnel in plain clothes from the Afghanistan National Security Directorate were reportedly involved in the attack.


The IFJ joins the AIJA in strongly condemning the attack on the reporters.


“We fully share the concerns expressed by our Afghan affiliate on the increasingly hostile environment for fair reporting ahead of the presidential and provincial councils’ election due next month,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White.


Speaking at a press conference, the AIJA president Rahimullah Samander said, “Police have the responsibility for the provision of safety to journalists, who then can provide better information to public at this crucial time. This assault on journalists is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”


Speaking at a national assembly of journalists’ leaders from across the country in Kabul in late July, White had said that journalists in Afghanistan were coming under pressure as political contention escalated in the run-up to the national elections.


“The political community and the government in particular must demonstrate a commitment to democracy by setting model standards when it comes to treatment of media,” White said.


The IFJ joins the AIJA in calling on Afghan security officials and police to bring to account those responsible for the most recent acts of violence and to set a conspicuous example of respecting media freedoms in the months ahead.


For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919


The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide