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Watchdog raises concern over attacks plaguing media industry

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(Last Updated On: December 28, 2020)
Afghanistan’s media workers have warned if government does not step up efforts to preserve freedom of expression and safeguard their lives they might end up being forced to flee the country. 
 
This comes after a string of attacks left five media workers dead in two months – amid a marked increase in targeted killings and attempted assassinations.  
 
At a meeting on Saturday, Afghan media workers said the escalation of targeted attacks against journalists and media workers has also led to self-censorship. 
 
In a statement issued by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), the organization stated that the Afghan government and Taliban urgently need to consider and respond to the demands of the Afghan media for support, safety, protection, timely investigations and access to information.
 
The AIHRC said targeted killings of journalists in the past few months have had a negative impact on media across the country and that many female journalists from the provinces have left their jobs. 
 
“It is very difficult for journalists to have access to the districts, even those near the provincial centers. They cannot easily move around the city. When those working in media including journalists are threatened, they refer to government security agencies, but, according to journalists, their concerns and demands are not given sufficient attention by the security institutions,” the statement read.
 
At Saturday’s meeting, over 100 journalists and representatives of media support organizations shared their concerns and challenges with Shaharzad Akbar, the AIHRC’s Chairperson and the commission’s leadership.
 
AIHRC said: “There has been a lot of psychological pressure on those working in media in Afghanistan in recent months due to the environment of fear and intimidation created by the targeted attacks. 
 
“The media community are worried about more restrictions that could affect their work and their lives. 
 
“The government of Afghanistan has not shared sufficient information on preventing the targeted killings of journalists and prosecuting the perpetrators.”
 
This also comes just weeks after government announced it had dismantled the spokesperson position for provincial governor offices.
 
Since the decision came into effect, on December 2, the governors themselves are responsible for giving information to the media. 
 
“Dismantling this position has caused concern about disruption in the free circulation of information in the country. Most journalists complain about lack of access to information and data at the provincial level. 
 
“To this end, the media call on the government to ensure freedom of expression and respect people’s right to access information by revising the decision about dismantling the spokesperson position in the provincial governors’ offices,” the statement read.
 
Journalists at the meeting also called for a number of other measures to be considered. 
 
They asked for the international community to pressure the warring parties to agree to a ceasefire and end the violence and targeted killings; that the Afghan government must prevent targeted attacks, ensure security of journalists, and investigate cases of murder, threat, intimidation and violations against journalists. And also identify and prosecute the perpetrators and share the results with the people and families of the victims.
 
The journalists stated that the Taliban cannot abdicate responsibility for the attacks by mere denials and said if the Taliban is not involved, they must share their information and findings with the public. 
 
Some journalists expressed their concern over hate-inducing, violent language and narratives by local Taliban-affiliated media regarding independent journalists and free press and said this language and narrative has the potential to be normalized and could end up spreading violence against independent media.
 
The AIHRC meanwhile expressed its concern about the threats and limitations facing the media and journalists and called on the international community, Afghan government and Taliban to urgently consider the situation. 
 
Freedom of expression and the growth of the media sector is one of Afghanistan’s most significant achievements over the past twenty years and the media in Afghanistan has played an important role in ensuring citizens’ access to information, holding the government accountable, and promoting democratic institutions despite the difficult security situation. 

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At least five dead in Kabul mosque bombing

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(Last Updated On: May 25, 2022)

Kabul Emergency Hospital report at least five people have died and 22 wounded in this evening’s explosion at a mosque.

The incident happened in PD4 at the Hazrat Zakaria mosque.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast.

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IEA printing passports in Lithuania to resolve shortage problem

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(Last Updated On: May 25, 2022)

The General Directorate of Passports of the Interior Ministry of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said Wednesday that efforts are being made to address the shortage of passport booklets in Afghanistan and that tens of thousands of passports will be available in the next few days.

The directorate said on Wednesday that three million passport booklets have been printed in Lithuania and will be delivered to Kabul within two weeks.

According to officials this is being done in cooperation with the United Nations.

Meanwhile, Shafiullah Tasal, media secretary for the General Directorate of Passports, told VOA that a Lithuanian company printed the passports and that the IEA government has paid the company.

According to Tasal discussions were currently underway regarding delivery.

The IEA has been only issuing ten-year passports for the past month to Afghans over the age of 15.

Children and teenagers under the age of 15 are issued with five-year passports.

The IEA charges more than 5,000 Afghanis for a five-year passport and 10,000 Afghanis for a ten-year passport.

For several weeks now, the distribution of passports across Afghanistan has stopped, and the IEA has only distributed them in Kabul.

However the General Directorate of Passports said once the new shipment of passports arrives, distribution will resume in all provinces.

Two days ago, the department said that a number of people had recently printed fake passport booklets in “neighboring countries” and illegally distributed them to the public in exchange for money.

According to the department, some of these “profiteers” have been detained by IEA intelligence officials and are being investigated.

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Tajikistan to host regional security summit on Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: May 25, 2022)

Tajikistan is scheduled to host a regional security summit on Afghanistan on Thursday and Friday this week.

The meeting will be held in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, and will be attended by representatives from countries in the region.

In addition to this, another meeting was held this week between an Afghan Defense Ministry delegation and the commander of the Uzbek Border Guards.

At this meeting, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) officials reassured Uzbekistan that Afghanistan’s territory will not pose a threat to any country.

Meanwhile, Tajikistan will host this week’s meeting following successive meetings of regional countries on the situation in Afghanistan, which will be attended by national security advisers of countries in the region.

They are expected to review the security, political, economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

The meeting will be held on Thursday and Friday in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, and will be attended by India’s national security adviser and representatives from Russia, China, Iran and Central Asian countries, Indian media reported, but it is unclear whether Pakistan will send a delegation to this meeting or not.

“The border situation and the threat posed by terrorism to Central Asian countries and Afghanistan’s other neighbors will be discussed at the meeting,” India’s national security adviser was quoted as saying. “Women’s rights and the need to form an inclusive government will also be discussed,” The Times of India reported.

The Islamic Emirate, however, has repeatedly said that there is no threat from Afghanistan to neighboring countries and the region, and instead called on these countries to expand their interactions and cooperation with the new Afghan government.

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