The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA), in expressing concerns about efforts by Afghanistan’s Government to censor television live coverage of militant attacks.
The proposed ban was discussed at a meeting at Afghanistan’s National Security Directorate between authorities and some key media outlets on March 1. Official notice of the new restrictions was sent out by the Kabul police chief on March 2.
“These new broad restrictions can only be termed government censorship,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
“Blocking reporting on matters of vital importance jeopardises independent and impartial reporting on matters of vital national significance, and denies ordinary people their right to be informed about matters that affect their personal safety and security.”
The restrictions, which the AIJA says contravene Afghanistan’s Constitution and media laws, follow an attack by Taliban insurgents in Kabul, in which at least 16 people were killed. Most of the victims were from India.
Officials say live coverage presents a security risk because it shows how security forces are responding to an attack, and therefore assists militants in their organisation of an operation. Officials have also said they are trying to protect journalists from gunfire and bombs, according to the AIJA.
AIJA reports that officials from the office of the presidential spokesman have said they would discuss how the ban is to be enforced by ministerial media departments.
The Interior Ministry reportedly plans to hold a news conference within the week to discuss the restrictions with journalists, their organisations and unions, and media owners.
The IFJ joins the AIJA in calling on Afghanistan’s Government and authorities to reverse the restrictions immediately, in the public interest, and to respect the right to information.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries