Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 October 2017, 10:40 GMT

Press in Eastern Afghanistan Urge Greater Access and Safety for Fellow Journalists

Publisher UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
Publication Date 7 May 2012
Cite as UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Press in Eastern Afghanistan Urge Greater Access and Safety for Fellow Journalists , 7 May 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5124ecd82.html [accessed 24 October 2017]

On World Press Freedom Day, journalists in the eastern region urged the Government to guard their safety and called for greater access to sources and materials to more accurately report the realities they observe on the ground.

About a dozen journalists and civil society members from national and international media sources based in Jalalabad today participated in a round tables organized by Sharq TV and radio stations Kilid, Inikas, Safa and Sharq.

The province used to have only state-run radio and television stations in Laghman, Kunar and Nangarhar, but now there are 26 media outlets, including seven television and 19 radio stations. In addition, there are five local radio stations established by the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs)

In their broadcasting, many of these radio stations focus on social programmes and entertainment which did not exist a decade ago. A radio station in Nargis, for example, is run by women and broadcasts specially produced programming for women's issues.

The round-table participants said praised this boom in local media and topics broadcast, but said journalists continue to face security challenges when reporting in the field.

"Last year was the worst for the journalists in the region. One of our reporters in Nuristan province was killed in a mine explosion and another was injured in Jalalabad while preparing a report," said Moeed Hashmi, reporter of Pazhwak News Agency and provincial head of the Journalists' Defense Committee.

"I witnessed several incidents where our reporters were threatened or even beaten," Hashmi added.

During the round-table discussions, the journalists agreed on a joint document which urges officials to safeguard their safety, as outlined in the Afghan Constitution and international documents.

"We, the journalists of the eastern provinces, are strictly requesting the Government and anti-Government elements promise to uphold the freedom of expression of the media and journalists as stipulated in the Constitution of Afghanistan," Ziaurahman Hasrat, reporter of Voice of America, and Baz Mahmad Abid reporter of Mashal Radio said reading the statement.

They added that journalists and media groups wanted greater access to "accurate, factual and timely information" from officials.

The UN Security Council in 2006 adopted Resolution 1735 on the Protection of Journalists in armed conflicts. In it, the Security Council members unanimously wrote that journalists are protected as civilians under international humanitarian law and cannot be deliberately targeted.

This year, senior UN officials in Afghanistan reiterated that message, adding that media freedom is at the heart of a healthy society that believes in debate and discussion.

"UNAMA supports efforts to protect and promote human rights for all Afghans, for which a free, independent and pluralistic media is essential, and expresses concern at the continued restrictions on freedom of media, and attacks against journalists," said Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš in a statement.

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