Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

Ups and downs of Media in Afghanistan

Freedom of speech or freedom of media is one of the most important achievements of new political system in Afghanistan. Because Afghanistan is a country that has survived of dictatorial rule and its inhabitants have dropped behindfrom convoy of civilization,thefreedom of expression and freedom of media is unanimously considered as one of the top topics for this country. This freedom is recognized in the constitution and everyone, especially the government, has been obliged to adhere and ensure its implementation.As thefreedom of speech is in inseparable element of a democratic society, whether the society is democratic or not, can be defined by the indicator of independent press and mass media.
The main functions of media are to cover the events, gather and spread information to shape the mentality of people and finally to control the activities of state authorities. In fact, today’s world is ruled by media positively or negatively it can affect our thoughts, attitudes, society, families and future generation. So, if we want to lay the foundation for a strong, united society free of hostility and discrimination, we need to start from having a good regulated media. That’s why, it is used to be said that the mass media is the fourth power after the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary power.
Anyway, theexperience of media and freedom of expression has not been flawless for our people and it sounds to be in its childhood yet. From one hand, dozens of journalists have been killed, injured and threatened by known and unknown actors. On the other hand, the methods which has been used by journalists in recent years have often been deviating, dividing and journalists have not been able to follow the path of freedom as they should. For this reason, freedom of expression and media have not yet been properly formulated in the country and have not been created through hundreds of active media, even an independent, neutral and trusted media.
The weakness of the media and its encounters with political, cultural and social issues have, on one hand, reduced the citizen’s confidence in the media and, on the other hand, they have provided the government with the opportunity not to pay close attention to media and journalistic problems and just deal as instrumental tool and ignores their true function in today’sdemocratic system. For this reason, over the past one-and-a-half decade, the media have not received much credence and power to controlgovernment agencies and force them to bring necessary reforms to their offices. During these years, the media was a scream that was less heard to them. As the media voices have not been heard by administrative agencies, the media’s right to access the information has also been ignored by the government and the collections of government agencies.
from one hand, the government criticizes the media that they do not reflect the facts; on the other hand, the government itself, which is an important source of news and inquiry, refrains from providing the necessary information to the media. An overview of the statistics of violence against journalists makes it clear that most of the violence has been imposed by government officials butthis should be assessed from both sides. Means, from one sidethe government employees may have been involved in corruption or somethingsillegally run in the offices, which, due to fear of disclosure, may not be ready to give the necessary information to the media. But on the other side of the case, may be it is related to the function and impartiality of the media. In the sense that the media do not act in an impartial manner in the investigation or reflection of the issues distorting the atmosphere of freedom by biased political tendencies. The other part of the case may refer to the lack of professional journalists who go to government departments for information. Respecting the law and the media ethics and gaining the trust of the party for its impartial and fair reflection is something less taken serious bysome journalists.
Bothsides criticize each and other; however, these criticisms will not benefit the institutionalization of freedom of expression if they do not pursue necessary reforms in the agencies and do not help the media professionalism. Many Afghan journalistsstress that the state of access to information in the country has recently been undermined. Thus, they blame the government for not sharing information with reporters and evensometime scorningthe journalists.On the other hand, government officials deny these statements and accused themacting politically, making their reports based on misleading, unprofessional, and based on political tastes.
Bye and large, these encounters indicate that neither the government agencies are regulated in deal with the media in accordance with the principle of freedom of law and nor the media has proved their impartiality and professionalism in pursuit of issues. Anyhow, democracy is meaningless without freedom of media and freedom of thoughts but there is a dire need to promote media literacy and media skills as a safeguard against any destructive and divisive factors. According to article 50 of the Afghan Constitution, and according to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Conventions “Right to Know” or “Right of Access to Information” are the fundamental human rights. Therefore, firstly, the government and then the media community should fulfill their responsibilities in regard to progression and regulation of media on the basis of national interests and convergence culture.