HRW: Taliban deliberately target journalists

Violence against journalist has increased by 26 percent in 2020 as comparing to 2019, says the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) today, Thursday, February 04.

In its annual report, the AJSC says that 132 cases of violence against journalist have been registered in 2020. Violence and threats committed against journalists, as the report says, include killing of journalists, injuring them, physical assault, kidnapping, and various farms of threats, theft, verbal, legal, and administrative abuse.

“7 journalists and media workers were murdered—5 as a result of targeted killing and 2 as a result of improvised explosives. 18 journalists and media workers were injured whilst reporting and on duty. 10 journalists were physically assaulted, 47 threatened, 28 verbally abused and 13 journalists and media workers faced legal and administrative abuse by media managers. 7 journalists were kidnapped and 2 experienced theft while gathering content from the field,” part of the report reads.

AJSC findings suggest that the Taliban and the Islamic State Khurasan Province have committed majority of the violence against journalists while some cases of violence have been committed by government officials.

According to Najib Sharifi, head of the AJSC, a growing violence and targeted killing against journalists have created an atmosphere of fear among journalist community in Afghanistan.  He added that the violence has negatively impacted productivity of the media forcing journalists and media to resort to self-censorship.

“In spite of these threats, journalists and media have carried out their sacred responsibility for sharing information with the public,” he was quoted as saying in the AJSC statement.

Another factor that has negatively impacted the media products, as Sharifi put it, was the outbreak of coronavirus in Afghanistan which added to financial challenges for the Afghan media.

He further highlighted the lack of an initiative to protect basic rights of journalists in peace negotiations with the Taliban, noting that it still remained unaddressed.

In its 2019 report, the AJSC recorded a 13.2 decrease in the level of violence against journalist compared to its previous year, 2018.

The total cases of violence against journalists recorded by the Committee in 2018 was 121 in 2018.

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