On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day (May 03), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Centre for the Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ) sent an alarming warning about the deteriorating situation of freedom of the press in Afghanistan.
At least 20 journalists and media workers, including four women, have been killed over the last eight months. The Afghan security and intelligence officials blamed the Taliban insurgents for the targeted killing of journalists but the group denied involvement in attacks against journalists.
Earlier last month, Human Rights Watch said in a report that the Taliban were deliberately targeting journalists and female media workers. HRW called on the United Nations and international community to publicly press the Taliban leadership to provide protection to independent media organizations and journalists in Afghanistan.
“At least 20 journalists and media workers have been the victims of targeted attacks in the past six months and eight, including four women, have been killed. Around 30 others have received death threats in connection with their journalistic work,” RSF said in a report published on May 03.
As the foreign troops undergoing a phased withdrawal from the country, the space for free press continues to shrink, with a targeted attack on journalists continue to claim lives and silence vocal voices.
In a joint statement issued by the international diplomatic missions in Kabul, the international community underlined that a free and independent media is “an essential part of an inclusive and representative Afghanistan. “As Afghanistan’s international friends and partners, we reaffirm our commitment to stand by its journalists and the media sector. We continue to support Afghan journalists, to stand up for their rights, and to oppose undue restrictions on their work,” the statement read.
“The peace and peaceful coexistence sought by the Afghan people will be impossible to guarantee without the entire society’s participation and will be impossible to realize without a free and independent press,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran-Afghanistan desk.
Without a concrete guarantee for press freedom, Afghanistan will not be able to have a just and lasting peace, RSF said.
Afghanistan has seen a dramatic rise in targeted violence, particularly against journalists, ever since the United States signed a peace deal with the Taliban on February 29, 2020, in Doha.