The Taliban in Daikundi province have decided that journalists should refrain from publishing unconfirmed and negative news, adding that they should learn national and English languages. This ruling was issued in a meeting on January 20, chaired by the deputy governor of Daikundi. The decision has prompted Afghanistan’s journalists and media defenders to express concern over further restrictions and pressure from the Taliban.
Mohammad Mohammadi (a pseudonym) is a freelancer in Daikundi. Mohammadi has been working with the public and private media in the province for at least three years. Referring to the Taliban’s recent crackdown on journalists, he said the restrictions were increasing day by day, adding that the process was detrimental to freedom of expression and journalists. He said that local media were provided with censored information, stressing that journalists were harassed and threatened. According to Mohammadi, female journalists in Daikundi have lost their jobs and, the situation of journalists in the province is not good. At the same time, he believes, the authorities’ insistence on refusing to publish negative news is a “baseless demand.”
Narges Amini is one of the few female journalists in Bamiyan province who still works. Amini emphasizes that journalists face significant difficulties in various spheres. According to her, the process of obtaining information is very time-consuming and, access to information is currently limited. She said she had to wait and coordinate for days to receive basic information. “If the report is in any way against the Taliban, it will either not be allowed to be published or will be censored,” said Narges Amini. Expressing concern over the continuation of such a situation, Amini added that people are confused and do not know what is happening around them.
At the same time, media advocacy groups say that imposing any restrictions on journalists is unacceptable. Masroor Lotfi, Afghanistan’s National Journalists’ Union (ANJU) Director, told Hasht-e Subh that if journalists were told to publish news in favor of the Taliban-led government, the media would be damaged. According to Lotfi, always covering up the positives and not highlighting the negative points of the Taliban-led government damages the media’s credibility and is not acceptable to them. He stressed that the issuance of resolutions for journalists in the provinces shows the dual behavior of the Taliban. Because, according to Lotfi, no such order has been given to the media in the country’s capital. However, he emphasizes that creating a legal structure to address these challenges can be helpful.
“Local media reporters must be fluent in Pashto, Dari, and English, and if they are not fluent in one of the languages, they must learn the language,” stated the decree issued by local Taliban officials in Daikundi.
“Negative and unconfirmed news is more widely reported by journalists and the media – the news should be confirmed first and then published.”
According to the resolution of this administrative meeting, the Department of Information and Culture is obliged to follow the list of journalists who must learn languages.
Abdullah Elham, the Taliban governor’s spokesman for Daikundi, said they aimed to prevent journalists from publishing fake news in the province. According to Elham, reporters cover the news more the opposite of what is happening. “The news should be published as it happened, not more than that,” he added. “Because it creates anxiety in the minds.”
Free Speech Hub (FSH) recently issued a statement urging the Taliban to stop suppressing the media and imposing restrictions on free speech. The country’s media protection body also said on Monday (January 17th) that the Afghan media is not fully free and is systematically censored by the Taliban. “People from the Taliban intelligence bureau regularly come to the media newsrooms and order them,” the statement said. Reporters Without Borders also said in a joint report with Afghanistan’s National Journalists’ Union (ANJU) that 231 media outlets had been shut down in the country since August, adding that 6,400 journalists and media associates had lost their jobs. The report states that 43% of Afghanistan’s media outlets have been shut down in the past few months. A large part of it included the local media.
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Source: Hasht-e Subh Daily