Media companies in Afghanistan term new rules as an existential threat to independent journalism and call upon government to scrap them [Al Jazeera].

Media Unhappy Over New Regulations, Asks Government to Afghan Reconsider

Media companies in Afghanistan have termed new rules as an existential threat to independent journalism, and are calling upon the government to scrap them. They spoke out on Wednesday, June 24, ahead of a meeting with officials to discuss amendments.

Earlier this month, changes in the media laws were sent to the parliament for ratification. However, they were recalled after intense media backlash. The new proposals included changes like the revelation of sources to both, government bodies and security services.

Lotfullah Najafizada, director of Tolonews, Afghanistan’s largest private TV channel called the changes “shocking”. He added that “Freedom of expression has transformed Afghanistan in two decades and any setback is a grave mistake.”

The spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani Sediq Sediqqi then issued a statement saying that the government is dedicated to the protection of press freedom, thus the president has recalled the draft from the parliament.

One of Ghani’s vice-presidents is due to discuss the draft with media companies. Meetings are to be held later this week.

Media and the press in Afghanistan have faced much adversity due to unrest, and have begun a long road to recovery since 2001 when the Taliban regime fell. Under the strict and harsh rule of the Taliban, television had been banned in the country. Domestic media in Afghanistan only grew much later, in 2014, after international outlet presence was reduced, after the draw-down of foreign troops.

The debate surrounding media regulations during the Ghani regime in 2020 underscores the ongoing struggle for press freedom in Afghanistan. As the country continues to grapple with political instability and security challenges, the delicate balance between governmental oversight and journalistic independence remains a contentious issue. The pushback from media companies against proposed changes to the media laws reflects their concerns about potential threats to press freedom and the integrity of independent journalism.

President Ashraf Ghani’s administration faced criticism over the proposed amendments, with media outlets expressing fear that the new rules could stifle their ability to operate freely and protect their sources. The decision to recall the draft legislation from parliament following intense backlash highlights the power of public outcry in shaping government policies related to media freedom.

Against the backdrop of Afghanistan’s turbulent history and ongoing efforts to rebuild its democratic institutions, the protection of press freedom emerges as a critical component of the country’s transition towards stability and prosperity. As Afghanistan continues its journey since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, the need to safeguard media independence and uphold democratic values remains paramount.

In the face of persistent challenges and uncertainties, fostering open dialogue and collaboration between the government, press, and civil society is essential. Only through concerted efforts to uphold the principles of transparency, accountability, and freedom of expression can Afghanistan build a resilient media landscape that serves the interests of its people and strengthens its democratic institutions.

Komal Salman

Komal Salman, a multifaceted professional with experience spanning graphic design since undergraduate studies, media production, indie authorship, and artistry, brings a rich storytelling perspective to her work.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *