Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, November 24th, 2017

“Afghanistan – 2nd Worst Country for Journalists”

Media and journalists in Afghanistan have been performing a very important role. They are the ones who can provide timely information to the people of the country and at the same time shape public opinion against extremism and terrorism and make the people ready for a democratic system that can ensure peace, prosperity and development. However, they face serious problems while performing their duties. These problems are not only related to insecurity but also to discriminatory and non-democratic behavior towards them.
According to a recent statement by Afghan Journalist Safety Committee (AJSC), Afghanistan is the second worst country in the world for journalists after Syria, which is the most dangerous country. AJSC has also recorded that 10 journalists have been killed so far this year and 100 others have been exposed to violence. Sediqullah Tawhidi, the chairman of AJSC, said in his statement that around 1,000 journalists have been killed throughout the world this year and Afghanistan, unfortunately, has the second highest total. This is a matter of great concern, especially in a country that needs to protect its journalists and media to a great extent.  
Thus the fact remains evident that the situation for Afghan journalists does not seem to be getting any better. The rising insecurity and the lack of attention to the plight of the journalists has led to some very difficult circumstances that the journalists have to go through so as to perform their duties. Even the foreign journalists are facing serious difficulties in fulfilling their responsibilities. Kabul police, on various occasions, have warned the national and international journalists to limit their travels in the city because of security risks and the risks of kidnapping that seems to be on the rise.
Afghan media organizations feel that the attitude of the law enforcement agencies, in fact, demoralizes the spirits of the journalists in the country and would bar them from collecting information. Instead, the security authorities must ensure the security of the country as a whole and of the journalists, in particular.
Mostly, the societies that are well developed and have great respect for knowledge and information, make sure that the rights of the journalists are guarded properly and they are provided with such circumstances wherein they are able to perform their responsibilities with full dedication and devotion.
On the other hand, the societies that suffer from political instability and experience wars, and disturbances and do not recognize the worth of true knowledge and information tend to forget the vital responsibility of guarding the rights of the journalists. The journalists in such societies tend to suffer from different sorts of discriminations and, unfortunately, even lose their lives.
Mostly conflict zones are dangerous for the journalists. In order to provide true and timely information, the journalists have to move into or close to the places where wars and conflicts happen. They, therefore, put their lives at risk and try to fulfill their responsibilities. Different groups, organizations or countries in such zones have to be very careful about the rights of journalists and make sure they are not targeted. However, that does not seem to happen and many journalists lose their valuable lives every year. Moreover, because of the influence and approach of different extremist networks, the number of journalists losing their lives in the peaceful countries is also alarming.
Apart from the right to life, according to International law, journalists are entitled for certain other rights as well which all the governments and organizations around the world must respect. Journalists, according to the Declaration of Rights and Duties of the Journalists, must have free access to all information sources, and the right to freely inquire on all events conditioning public life. Therefore, secret of public or private affairs may be opposed only to journalists in exceptional cases and for clearly expressed motives. Therefore, any factor hindering the journalists from having access to all information sources must be considered illegal and should be eliminated.
Moreover, the journalists have the right to refuse subordination to anything contrary to the general policy of the information organ to which he collaborates such as it has been laid down by writing and incorporated in his contract of employment, as well as any subordination not clearly implicated by this general policy. And, the journalists cannot be compelled to perform a professional act or to express an opinion contrary to his convictions or his conscience.

Ill-fatedly, Afghanistan is also one of the countries that have not been giving enough heed to the rights of the journalists. The war and conflicts and the negligence of the relevant authorities have resulted in different sorts of discrimination against the journalists in the county. Afghan government and different other organizations and groups must make sure that they strive to protect the rights of the journalists as they can be one of the hopes of the country for restoration of peace and tranquility.