Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

Afghanistan the Third Deadliest Country for Journalists

Journalists are one of the most important members of the society as they perform the vital responsibility of providing timely and useful information and, in certain cases, the true face of truth to the people. However, in order to perform their responsibility, they have to be ready to perform certain sacrifices as well. The most important one of them is their commitment to perform their duties even the most unfavorable conditions. Whether it is a usual situation, a natural calamity or conflicts and wars, they have to be at every place so that they are able to gather information and disseminate it to others. Particularly, at the places that are insecurity, they face myriads of challenges, and in certain cases, even lose their valuable lives.   
Every year, journalists lose their lives, in certain ways in different parts of the country. According to a report by Reporters Without Borders – Reporters Sans Frontier (RSF), released on Tuesday, December 19, a total of 65 journalists and media workers were killed in 2017. The report highlighted, “26 people were killed in the course of their work, the collateral victims of a deadly situation such as an air strike, an artillery bombardment, or a suicide bombing. While, the 39 others were murdered, and deliberately targeted because their reporting threatened political, economic, or criminal interests." The report also mentioned that 326 people working in the media - including 202 professional journalists - are also being detained.
However, even more unfortunate for Afghanistan is that it was the third deadliest country for journalists during the period that covered RSF report. Syria was declared as the deadliest country for journalists, with 12 killed, one more than in Mexico where many journalists have "either fled abroad or abandoned journalism." Behind Syria and Mexico, the report revealed that the deadliest country for reporters were Afghanistan, where nine journalists were killed in 2017.
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. The Afghan law-enforcement agencies instead of arranging to provide for their security, warn them to limit their movement. It demoralizes the spirits of the journalists in the country and would bar them from collecting information.
It can be observed that 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 they collaborate such as it has been laid down by writing and incorporated in their 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 their convictions or his conscience.

Ill-fatedly, Afghanistan is 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 are not a party to the conflict and do not serve anyone’s purpose.