Censoring journalists in Afghanistan
None of the previous incidents of censorship in Afghanistan (here and here, to cite just two of the more egregious examples) come remotely close to this week’s ban on news media coverage of Taliban violence during the presidential elections….
Here is the statement from Reporters Without Borders:
MONTREAL, Aug. 19 /CNW Telbec/ – The instructions which the government issued to the media yesterday forbidding them to cover Taliban violence during tomorrow’s presidential election send a very bad signal, Reporters Without
Borders said today.
“Issued by Hamid Karzai’s government on the eve of democratic elections, this ban is very inopportune even if the possibilities of enforcing it are very limited,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It not only violates media freedom but also the fundamental right of Afghan citizens to know what is going on in their country. Worse still, this censorship attempt threatens the entire democratic process and increases the danger that Taliban attacks represent for the population.”
The press freedom organisation added: “Journalists already say they are harassed by the security forces when their try to cover violent incidents, but now we could see journalists being kept away from voting stations because they could be the target of terrorist attacks. This runs counter to the principal of electoral transparency.”
Both the foreign ministry and the interior ministry issued separate statements yesterday about media coverage of election-day violence.
The English-language version of the foreign ministry statement “requested” the media not to cover any violence “in view of the need to ensure the wide participation of the Afghan people… and prevent any election-related terroristic violence.” But the Dari-language version was much more authoritative, telling the media that reporting terrorist violence was “strongly prohibited.”
The interior ministry statement instructed journalists to keep away from the scene of any attacks.
“Afghanistan Imposes Censorship on Election Day,” reported the New York Times.