Kabul, Afghanistan: On May 05, 2021, Taliban spokesperson, Zabiullah Mujahed, accused the Afghan media of not being impartial in their reporting and warned them of facing consequences if they don’t change their approach. At the same time, a member of parliament alleged that the head of the National Security Directorate (NDS), in a confidential session of the Wolesi Jirga (lower house of parliament), made some remarks which could be perceived as a constricting gesture against the media.
Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) condemns the Taliban spokesman’s statement and considers it as a threat to journalists and the media. AJSC also call on the National Security Directorate to formally clarify their position about the allegations made about the NDS Director. AJSC emphasizes that the parties involved in the conflict must remain committed to upholding the values of international conventions, including the right to freedom of expression.
According to Article 34 of the Constitution, freedom of expression is inviolable, and according to Article 6 of the Media Law, journalists are legally protected in their professional activities related to the publication of reports and criticism. If there is a violation or misconduct by the media, there are legal channels to address it. On the other hand, according to the Doha resolution, the Taliban must be committed to protecting the fundamental rights of citizens, of which freedom of expression is one example.
The principle of impartiality must be defined in the light of journalistic knowledge. The publication of facts and criticisms does not harm this principle in any way. The fact that both sides involved in the conflict accuse the media of violating the principle of impartiality also shows that the media is not affiliated with any party and media do not bolster interests of a particular party.
In addition to condemning the Taliban spokesman’s statement, and requesting clarification from the government, AJSC calls on the United Nations to create a monitoring scheme that would ensure protection of press freedom during the peace process. Press freedom is one of the major achievements of the last two decades. Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) announces any technical cooperation in this regard.