Taliban’s New Rules for Afghan Journalists Raise Fear

Considerations are rising on the elevated constraints the Taliban authorities has positioned on the information media in Afghanistan, after officers issued a brand new framework of guidelines for journalists that critics say open the door for censorship and repression.

Qari Muhammad Yousuf Ahmadi, the interim director of the Authorities Media and Data Middle and a longtime Taliban spokesman, unveiled 11 guidelines for journalists this week. They embody directives in opposition to publishing subjects which might be in battle with Islam or insulting to nationwide personalities, and likewise instruct journalists to provide information stories in coordination with the federal government media workplace.

The once-vibrant media trade in Afghanistan has been in free fall because the Taliban seized management final month. Many Afghan journalists fled the nation, fearing repression and violence from the brand new rulers, whereas dozens extra have gone into hiding and are nonetheless searching for a manner out of Afghanistan.

Greater than 100 native media corporations and radio stations across the nation have stopped working, having both been closed down, taken over by the Taliban or pressured out of enterprise for lack of funding, based on native media. A few of the most outstanding newspapers have needed to stop print operations and now publish solely on-line, amid the nation’s sharp financial downturn.

The American-based press freedom group, the Committee to Shield Journalists, has been targeted on the emergency response to assist Afghan reporters and to trace violence in opposition to journalists by the Taliban.

“Journalists are simply frightened,” mentioned Steven Butler, who manages the group’s Asia program. He mentioned the group had been receiving lots of of emails from journalists asking for assist.

In early September in Kabul, the Taliban rounded up scores of demonstrators and journalists overlaying demonstrations in opposition to the brand new authorities, subjecting them to abuse in overcrowded jails, based on journalists who have been current. Images confirmed the backs of two detained reporters lined with bruises and gashes from being whipped with cables, prompting a world outcry.

Greater than a dozen Afghan journalists and media employees interviewed by The New York Occasions earlier this month described dwelling with a way of concern and self-censorship — whereas struggling to ship information regardless of the Taliban releasing little or no data.

The brand new guidelines introduced by the Taliban have performed little to calm the nervousness of members of the media and advocates for journalists.

The press freedom group, Reporters With out Borders, referred to as the foundations “spine-chilling” in an announcement on Thursday, and warned that though a few of them — comparable to calls for fact and steadiness — may appear affordable, as a complete the foundations have been “extraordinarily harmful as a result of they open the way in which to censorship and persecution.”

In its assertion, the group famous that whereas some clauses have been much like the wording in Afghanistan’s nationwide media regulation, the Taliban had dropped any point out of conforming with worldwide requirements and press-freedom conventions.

The Taliban didn’t reply to a request for remark.

A few of the guidelines could possibly be used coercively, Christophe Deloire, the Reporters With out Borders secretary basic, mentioned within the assertion. “They bode unwell for the way forward for journalistic independence and pluralism in Afghanistan.”

Mr. Butler mentioned the vagueness of the foundations, and their lack of requirements, would permit them to be misused.

“You don’t actually know what it means or how will probably be interpreted,” he mentioned. “A variety of international locations throughout the area have guidelines which might be equally obscure, and they’re used frequently to go after journalists, to place them into jail.”

“Are we going to imagine that the Taliban goes to be higher behaved than these different governments that declare to be democracies?” he mentioned. “It’s onerous to be optimistic about that one.”

Wali Arian contributed reporting.

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