KABUL in its annual report issued yesterday.
Abdul MujibKhilwatgar, Nai head, told a press conference here that violence against journalists reduced significantly in 2019, particularly after creation of a joint committee of government and media and other committees responding to journalists related cases.
The report also pointed to challenges facing media and its workers and said a number of media outlets were closed due to financial problems besides late payment of salaries to their workers.
42pc reduction in violence against journalists:
Based on figures recorded by Nai, 10 journalists and media workers have been killed and 21 others injured in 2019.
Abdul Mujib Khilwatgar said that 115 cases of violence had been registered until the annual report of the organization was prepared (December 29). These cases of violence included murder, injury, beating, threatening and insulting, short term detention, attacking media and lack of access to information that caused violence, he added.
About target killings, he said one case was related to the Taliban, one to a roadside bombing and one to a clash, while the rest seven were killed individually (targeted).
“Shafi Aria and Rahimullah in Takhar, Sulta Mohammad Khairkhwah in Khost, Mina Mangal in Kabul, Sakhi Baloch in Zabul, Nader Shah Sahibzada in Paktia and Wahid Muzhdah in Kabul were people who were killed individually,” he said.
Khilwatgar said eight cases of detention of journalists were related to the Taliban and insecure highways was another challenge they faced.
He said Taliban detained Najibullah Mohsini, director of Chonghaz local radio station in Baghlan for 24 hours.
In a similar case, the Taliban abducted six other journalists in Paktia and released them after two days, he said.
In the latest case, Taliban detained Qutbuddin Kohi, a Pajhwok Afghan News reporter from a passenger bus in Faryab, he said. However, Kohi was released after 24 hour of detention with the Taliban, he added.
Journalists and media workers detention:
Khilwatgar said 10 cases of journalists and media workers’ detention cases in 2019 related to the government.
He said these journalists were detained by NDS for a short period of time. In first case, NDS arrested Asadullah Samim, publications in charge of Baran Radio Station in Paktika.
He said Samim was arrested during a live program only on the charge of criticizing Paktika governor in a Facebook post.
In another similar case, Abdul Rahim Sekandar, a local journalist of Salam Watandar Radio Station and Habib Kamran, a journalists of Sahar News in Khost province, were arrested by NDS for criticizing President Ashraf Ghani, but they were released after 24 hours, he said.
NDS also stopped broadcasts of Talim Islam Radio Station in Farah and detained its six workers.
Attack on media:
Records with Nai show three cases of attacks on media were also registered during 2019.
The annual report shows the first attack took place on Hamisha Bahar TV channel in Nangarhar province in January. In this attack, the radio’s antenna was damaged besides other technical problems.
In another similar incident, the office of Dunia-e-Naw was attacked with a hand grenade in Farah province but no one was hurt, the report said.
The office of Saam Monthly magazine in Ghor was also attacked by unidentified armed men in 2019, the source added.
Reduction of violence against journalists:
Khilwatgar said Nai figures showed violence against journalists and media workers fallen by 42 percent in 2019 compared to 2018.
He said 198 cases of violence included 20 murders were recorded last year compared to 115 cases of violence including 10 murder in 2019.
Lack of access to information
He added that lack of access to information was a biggest challenge for journalists besides the mentioned violations in 2019.
He said journalists from Nimroz, Herat, Balkh, Takhar, Uruzgan and Ghazni provinces had complained about lack of access to information in the ongoing year and shared their complaints officially over not receiving answers from officials with the NAI.
Recently the Ghazni Journalists Association decided to boycott government coverage. Journalists in Ghazni claim they boycotted to cover government news in the province due to lack of access to information.
Violence investigated by government
He said 115 violence cases against journalists were addressed by government after registered by NAI this year.
He added the cases included 10 assassinations in 2019 and five perpetrators had been arrested and two cases dispatched to judicial organs.
He added two cases had been carried out by Taliban militants, one was killed in clashes and perpetrators of two cases were under police investigation.
Results and suggestions
Although the NAI termed the reduction of violence against reporters a good omen and said it was all because of cooperation of responsible bodies and particularly the Ministry of Interior but expressed concern over targeted killings of journalists and media activists in Afghanistan.
For safety of journalists, cases of violence against journalists, perpetrated by the Taliban, must be investigated by international courts and details should be provided in journalists’ violence cases.
NAI suggested creation of a small security check-post to protect reporters in conflict areas that cover news during the war.
Practical guidelines for easy access to information should be provided in the Law Implementation section. To facilitate access to government spokespersons, the rules and responsibilities of government spokespersons need to be adopted, and to improve the inter-organizational problems of the media, the regulation of remuneration of non-governmental and private sector employees, adjustments and practical solutions must be put in place.