Afghanistan : Media rights violations rise as journalists detained and sentenced

Afghanistan : Media rights violations rise as journalists detained and sentenced

New Delhi/ In another spate of crackdowns on Afghan media workers, journalist Abdul Rahim Mohammadi was reportedly detained by the Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence in Kabul on December 4, while on December 10, Radio Nasim manager Sultan Ali Javadi was sentenced to one year in prison in a Taliban court in Nili, Daikundi. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the Afghan Independent Journalists Union (AIJU), condemn the journalists’ detention and call on the Taliban to take swift action to cease the increasing number media violations and immediately release all media workers still in custody.

On December 4, Mohammadi, a journalist with Kabul’s independent broadcaster Tamdan TV, was  by the Taliban’s provincial intelligence officers in the southern city of Kandahar and has not been heard from since. The location of the journalist and the reason for the arrest remain unclear. Neither the local administration or the Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) have provided a summoned comment on the case.

According to AIJU, Mohammadi reported to foreign media along with Tamdan TV, with his arrest unlawful and not carried out by the Commission for Media Complaints and Violations.

Tamdan TV covers political and current affairs as well as Shiite religious programming. On February 14, the Kabul headquarters of Tamdan TV were raided by around ten armed Taliban militants, with staff members beaten and detained for over 30 minutes.

Six days later on December 10, Jawadi, a local journalist and the manager of the independent broadcaster Radio Nasim, was sentenced to one year in prison by the Taliban’s primary court in the city of Nili in the central Daikundi province. Jawadi was found guilty of “propaganda against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” and “espionage for foreign countries”.

His wife was present at the meeting, witnessing the verdict, after which Jawadi was subsequently transferred to prison. On September 27, Jawadi and other two Radio Nasim reporters, Saifullah Rezaei and Mojtaba Qasemi, wer arrested for a second time by members of the GDI from Jawadi’s home, with Radio Nasim also shuttered.

AIJU said, “AIJU considers the decisions and measures that have not been taken regarding the media and journalists through the Media Complaints and Violations Commission to be alarming and asks the various bodies not to undermine the freedom of expression with such measures and any action against the media community. They should act through this Commission, which is the only authority to deal with media violations.”

The IFJ said : “The IFJ condemns the arrest of Abdur Rahim Mohammadi and the sentencing of Sultan Ali Javadi. The international community must put pressure on the Taliban to halt its violations against the media and press freedom in Afghanistan. If this is allowed to continue, the already vulnerable media community will be forced to cease reporting completely, severely damaging the fragile fabric of freedom of expression in the country.”

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