Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, January 18th, 2021

Afghan Government Drops Controversial Media Law Amendment

Afghan Government Drops Controversial Media  Law Amendment

KABUL - Proposed amendments to the media law, which were introduced to parliament last month, have been recalled by President Ashraf Ghani.
This move comes after media outlets objected to the proposed changes which would have required journalists to disclose their sources and allow the government to censor news reports.
The Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) on Sunday welcomed the president’s move to drop the proposed amendment, which they said would have had a negative effect on media freedom in the country.
This move by the president comes after an outcry by media support organizations, media outlets, and journalists last month. Together they sent an open letter to the government calling for the amendments to be dropped.
Among the proposed amendments was a measure that would require journalists to reveal their sources to government bodies, including the security services.
Also, the rights of media outlets and journalists would have been affected, as would the independence of National Radio and Television (RTA). The government would also have been able to censor stories before and after publication and government monitoring organizations would have been given increased authority.
The proposed amendments would also have allowed for media outlets to have their licenses revoked in the absence of transparency regarding financial resources.
However, a major outcry by the media in Afghanistan was unleashed last month when the proposed amendments were tabled to parliament.
In the wake of this, the government established a 12-member technical team to review the amendment initiative. After several meetings, the team voted against the amendments.
“We welcome the technical committee’s decision to vote against the amendment and the government’s commitment that the initiative will not go ahead,” AFJC director Ahmad Quraishi said.
“At a time when the government is preparing for the peace talks with the hardline Taliban group, any amendment to the media law would have had serious consequences for media freedom in Afghanistan, adding to the growing insecurity and attacks that affect media outlets and journalists in the country,” he said.
The current media law was enacted in 2006 and has 54 articles. The proposed amendments were in contravention of articles 7, 34, 120, and 122 of Afghanistan’s Constitution.
Article 34 of the Constitution says: “Freedom of expression shall be inviolable. Every Afghan shall have the right to express thoughts through speech, writing, illustrations as well as other means in accordance with provisions of this constitution.”
It also stipulates that “every Afghan shall have the right, according to provisions of law, to print and publish on subjects without prior submission to state authorities. Directives related to the press, radio, and television as well as publications and other mass media shall be regulated by law.” (ATN)