Photo: UN

‘Stop detaining & imprisoning journalists’, pleads UN chief on World Press Freedom Day

Marking World Press Freedom Day, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said in a tweet on Wednesday that press freedom was under attack everywhere and that “the world must stand with journalists as they stand for the truth.”

In a following tweet, the UN chief said: “Stop detaining & imprisoning journalists for doing their jobs. Stop the threats & attacks. Stop the lies & disinformation. Stop targeting truth & truth-tellers. As journalists stand up for truth, the world must stand with them.”

Since returning to power in August 2021, the Taliban has severely restricted Afghanistan’s once vibrant media and the press. The Afghanistan Journalists Center (AJC) said on Tuesday that it had recorded at least 213 cases of violence, threats and detentions of journalists in Afghanistan over the past 12 months, a 65 per cent increase compared to the previous year.

NAI, a media rights group, said in a statement that “free media activity” had been “one of the most important achievements” in Afghanistan during the two decades before the Taliban’s return.

“But in last two years [under Taliban rule] free media activity has changed to a serious challenge in Afghanistan. After the political changes more than half of media outlets due to current challenges and economic problems have been stopped, and beside that more 65% of journalists and media workers lost their jobs.

“[We] call on international organizations to support media outlets and journalists in Afghanistan, and do act based on their two last decades commitments,” the media organization emphasizes. “Nai expects the international community and media supporting organizations to not abandon journalism community and Afghan journalists in international level. The progress of international supports can be grantee the basic values such as freedom of expression, access to information and free media activity in Afghanistan.”

Mortaza Behboudi was detained a few days after arriving in Kabul for a journalistic assignment.

As the world marks Word Press Freedom Day, Afghanistan-born French journalist, Mortaza Behboudi, remains in Taliban captivity.

Behboudi was detained by Taliban Intelligence agents in Kabul on 7 January. Despite international calls, the group has refused to let him free.