Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

Afghan Journalists: Facing Violence by the Insurgent Groups and Government Forces Indiscriminately

No body may deny that Journalism is an important profession. Thus, it can be seen as a skill, a talent, even a passion in a way; a passion to tell the truth, to inform, to reach others, to communicate news using any means necessary. So, why specific elements to this passion, this profession so fiercely challenge and perceive it as controversial? So far, many journalists have risked their futures, have been beaten, harassed, imprisoned and too many have even made the ultimate sacrifice – of their lives – in the pursuit of telling a story, exposing the truth and acknowledging the right to be heard. Along with threats directed to freedom of speech and freedom of the media in general, today the freedom to be and to call yourself a journalist and to perform your job freely is specifically also threatened in Afghanistan. We do not always appreciate the importance of the universal right to free expression and free speech, until they are tampered with by state interference and control. In no society, without the expression of ideas and opinions and their publication and distribution in the media we can ensure social development. As Afghan citizens, it is our duty to protect our freedom of speech and freedom of the media to ensure that all other human rights are protected in the country. We know that, like democracy, freedom of the media and freedom of speech do not come naturally, and cannot be taken for granted. As a result, they must be continually justified, reaffirmed and reinforced to create an enabling environment where democracy flourishes and journalists are free to seek out and question all members of the public, particularly government officials, whose jobs rely upon the public’s trust.
Violence against Journalists in Afghanistan
Attacks and crimes against journalists and media workers in Afghanistan are at intolerable levels. Journalists are deliberately targeted and murdered. Unfortunately, the level of violence and number of threats against journalists and the media continues to rise. Losing 14 journalists in a single attack on 30 April, is one of the crystal cut examples of serious violence against journalists in Afghanistan. Journalists are threatened by insurgent groups in provinces to self-censorship by telling them to either broadcast what they want or shut down their stations. In the meantime, government security forces or government-affiliated individuals account for a high percent of violence against journalists too.
As a matter of fact, any threat or act of violence against a media worker endangers not only that individual’s ability to exercise his or her right to freedom of expression, but also the rights of many other members of society to receive and access information freely. This situation is preserved by impunity, and the statistics reveal a correlation between high rates of violence against journalists and high rates of impunity more broadly. To practically address the widespread violence against the journalists, it is not enough the government just have a deep belief in the media as an indispensable part of the political system, but it must protect the journalists and provide them security and do everything it can to ensure this.