IFJ Condemns New Media Regulations in Afghanistan

Ifj President Younes M'Jahed and Affail Monney
Ifj President Younes M'Jahed and Affail Monney

The International Federation of Journalists denounced on Tuesday media restrictions announced by the Afghan national regulator under the Taliban, saying they will set a “grave precedent” and jeopardize independent journalism.

Earlier in September, the Afghan government’s media and information center (GMIC) unveiled 11 new regulations for the media industry. The Taliban claim that the new rules were based on the former Afghan media law adopted before the militans’ takeover.

“The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the coercive restrictions which it says will set a grave precedent for media control and effectively dismantle any possibility of sustainable independent journalism in Afghanistan,” the statement read.

These regulations applying to all journalists and media organizations across Afghanistan could be arbitrarily interpreted to censor broadcast content and restrict press freedom, the international watchdog continued.

“The 11 rules announced by GMIC interim director, Qari Mohammad Yousuf Ahmadi, … place restrictions on independent media and freedom of expression more broadly. The ‘regulations’ forbid journalists and media organisations from publishing or broadcasting stories ‘contrary to Islam’, insulting national figures or violating privacy,” the statement explained.

While the previous media law included an obligation to adhere to international norms, such as human rights, the new regulations say nothing about these global standards, the IFJ noted, adding that they also lack any “operational definitions of the terms they contain and provide ample room for individual interpretation by the country’s Taliban regime.”

The new restrictions come as the number of rights violations against journalists has been rising since the Taliban takeover in mid-August.

“According to the IFJ’s documentation, more than153 media organisations have now ceased operations as the Taliban regime solidifies; with women journalists barred from working, a spike in telecommunication shutdowns and increased threats and violence at media workers,” the statement read.

The IFJ decried the regulations as “a blatant attack” on the media industry and staff, as well as on its “vital task to inform Afghanistan’s people.”

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