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Home | Editorial | Targetting free media a barbaric act

Targetting free media a barbaric act

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Targetting free media a barbaric act
 Afghanistan media and journalists have faced increasing intimidation and violence from the militants in recent years. The country’s media and journalists are vulnerable to threats, intimidation and violence, particularly in relation to reporting on sensitive issues – including, crimes being committed by the militants, corruption, land grabbing, violence against women, and human rights abuses. 
Here yesterday, gunmen have attacked a television station in the capital Kabul, with at least two people reported killed and wounded several others.The attackers lobbed grenades before storming the Shamshad TV building.
Afghan security forces have ended the raid and the television station has resumed broadcasting. The so-called Islamic State (IS) said it had carried out the attack.
Shamshad TV broadcasts a wide variety of programmes including news and current affairs in the Pashto language. It is one of the BBC and China’s CGTN partner stations as well.
In January last year seven employees of local TV channel Tolo, which is often critical of the insurgents, were killed in a Taliban suicide bombing in Kabul in what the militant group said was revenge for “spreading propaganda” against them.
The media in Afghanistan have grown exponentially since 2002 when the Taliban regime was collapsed and are increasingly playing a role in public life - interviewing and criticizing politicians and public officials, but many officials do not embrace the idea that they are accountable to the public opinion. They believe they can quash such criticism through violence and intimidation.
Afghanistan is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists and media workers. The first six months of 2017 saw a surge in violence against journalists, with local monitor the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee recording 73 cases, an increase of 35% in comparison to the same period in 2016.
A cornerstone of a democratic society, free and independent media facilitate the free flow of ideas, opinions and information necessary for political processes to function, and serve as a critical check on executive authorities. Therefore all the parties involved in conflicts have obligations under international and regional human rights law to respect and safeguard freedom of expression, media freedom, and media pluralism. 
Freedom of expression and mass media activities are Afghan government’s remarkable acheivements in the last sixteen years. Therefore the government and its allies need to do more to safeguard freedom of expression and protect media members from the militant’s barbaric acts.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has time and again stressed on the wake of the attacks, that the government needs to protect freedom of expression as a non-negotiable universal value enshrined in the Afghan constitution. 
As the militants are not tolerating free speech and freedom of expression in the country, it is the obligation of the government to protect the hard-gained achievements of the past sixteen years. 
Since the militants continue their ugly acts againt the free media, the civil and media organizations need to step up campaigns for safety and security of journalists and other media members along with more concerted efforts for promoting freedom of expression. These organizations should do more in reaching out to the international community and world bodies for safety and security of journalists in Afghanistan.
 

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eva notty 15/11/2017
I am against it. My vote is with Free Media...
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