Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that media in Afghanistan is facing “far-reaching censorship” and “violence,” stressing that the situation is much worse in districts and provincial centers compared to Kabul and big urban centres.
The revelation was made in a report which had findings from interviews condccted since November 2021. The non-profit spoke to 24 journalists and other media workers in 17 provinces.
According to the HRW, the use of violence against journalists has compelled them to self-censorship in the provinces, TOLO News reported.
“Many journalists have felt compelled to self-censor and report only Taliban statements and official events. Women journalists have faced the most intense repression,” the HRW said.
The report further said that around 80 per cent 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.
In addition to restrictions, Afghan media is also facing serious financial challenges which has also been one of the key reasons for closure of many outlets, said the HRW.
In February this year, the Afghanistan Journalists and Media Organizations Federation (AJMOF) voiced its concerns on economic challenges facing the media, saying if immediate attention is not paid to the media’s financial problems, no media outlet will remain active in the next six months in the country.
On March 3, the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) in a press conference called on the World Bank to pay out money earmarked for media the Dastarkahan-e-Milli program.
Amid reports on restrictions against the media, the Taliban regime however, maintains that it supports media in the country, TOLO News reported.
Abdulhaq Emad, head of the publication department of the Ministry of Information and Culture, said the regime is working to resolve the challenges facing the media.
“We need to continue and stay patient for six months, only six months. We will get out of this crisis,” he said.
Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the regime is “committed to freedom of the press”, but the “media also has an obligation to stay impartial and remain committed to religious and national values”.