Media watchdog urges Taliban to end the harassment of media workers in Afghanistan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has urged the Taliban to cease the campaign of harassment against media workers in Afghanistan and respect the media’s responsibility and right to report.

In a statement on Wednesday, the IFJ said that the Taliban had arrested three journalists in Kandahar province on August 14, bringing the total number of journalists arrested in the country in just two weeks to 12.

Attaullah Omar, a reporter for TOLO News, and freelance journalist Shamsullah Omari were arrested separately in Kandahar province on August 14. Independent journalist Wahid ur-Rahman Afghanmal was also detained the same day but released the other day.

The IFJ said that the Taliban intelligence agency had detained some of the journalists on the charge of working for media outlets operating outside of Afghanistan.

The organization cited data from the Afghanistan Independent Journalist Union (AIJU) that shows that since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, at least 19 journalists and media workers have been killed; 21 injured; 91 arrested, 38 assaulted and 48 harassed.

The AIJU also said that the number of media outlets in Afghanistan has declined from 600 to 213 and that at least 8,000 jobs have been lost in the media industry. the organization estimates that around 2,500 journalists and media workers are living in exile.

“The Taliban campaign of arrests and detentions of journalists is a concerted and continuing effort to intimidate journalists from doing independent reporting from Afghanistan and to stifle the public’s right to know,” part of the IFJ statement reads.

The International Federation of Journalists has called for the immediate release of all journalists who have been detained and urged the Taliban to stop trying to muzzle journalists’ voices.

Among the journalists in Taliban captivity is Mortaza Behboudi, who was detained by the group’s intelligence agents on 7 January this year. And despite repeated calls, the Taliban has refused to free him or comment on his fate.