Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April 2014, 10:56 GMT

Afghan journalists miffed by Government orders to 'control' media coverage

Publisher UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
Publication Date 3 October 2012
Cite as UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Afghan journalists miffed by Government orders to 'control' media coverage , 3 October 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5124ee952.html [accessed 24 April 2014]

3 October 2012 - Representatives of media watchdog groups in Afghanistan have expressed deep concerns over a decision of the Council of Ministers which asked the Ministry of Information and Culture to ensure that media don't violate "national interests".

Media groups want more clarification on the term "national interests". They argue that the order is against the Constitution of Afghanistan and the Independent Media Law, and foresee the beginning of the muzzling of media freedom in Afghanistan.

"We believe that the Government of Afghanistan should define the national interest within a proper framework otherwise any criticism of the Government officials will be considered against national interest," said Siddiqullah Tauhidi, a representative of Nai Supporting Independent Media in Afghanistan.

Mr. Tauhidi has also urged the Government of Afghanistan to stay committed to the Afghan Constitution and the Afghanistan Independent Media Law.

However, the Ministry of Information and Culture sees the decision of the Council of Ministers as "appropriate and within its duties" to assess the broadcast of independent media for their coherence with the state laws, their benefits to the masses and their weaknesses.

The Deputy Minister for Information and Culture, Deen Mohammad Mubariz Rashidi, speaking at a television programme, accepted that "national interest" has not been defined in any official document. However, he said that some components of national interest such as security, national unity, territorial integrity and independence of the country are quite obvious terms.

"All the media organizations that operate under the umbrella of constitution and state laws should abide by these necessary components that form national interest," said Mr. Rashidi.

Abdul Hameed Mobarez, the head of Afghan National Journalist Union and Shah, Hussain Murtazavi, an independent journalist, shared concerns over the poor implementation of the Independent Media Law.

"The assessment of broadcast of independent media is the responsibility of the Media Commission which doesn't exist as yet despite the Independent Media Law. Instead, the Ministry of Information and Culture has replaced this Commission with the commission for investigating media violence, which is led by the Minister himself," said Murtazavi.

By UNAMA Kabul

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