Kabul: In a run-up to their meticulous show of repression and curbs in media freedom in Afghanistan, the Taliban unveiled ’11 rules’ for various media outlets and journos while reporting any news in the country.
The curbs released by the Taliban include directives against publishing topics that are in conflict with Islam or insulting to national personalities, basically from the government. Also, journalists will have to produce news reports in coordination with the government media office, The New York Times reported.
“Journalists are just frightened,” said Steven Butler, a senior member of America-based press freedom organization adding that “the organization had been receiving hundreds of emails from [Afghan] journalists asking for help.”
Over 150 media outlets in Afghanistan have shut down since the Taliban took over the country. Many of them fearing execution, fled from the country. The Taliban has been continuously creating intrusion in media’s ‘right to information’ which has hampered the work of scribe organizations, Tolo News reported.
Some of the prominent newspapers were also forced to cease print operations and now publish only online, amid the country’s sharp economic downturn, The New York Times reported.
Contrary to the promises made by the Taliban of respecting human values, the group continues to violate the basic human rights of media personnel as they are being harassed, tortured, and killed.
There has been a change in the content being shown on private TV channels. Critical news bulletins, political debates, entertainment and music shows, foreign dramas are replaced with programmes tailored to the Taliban government.
The first three rules, which forbid journalists to broadcast or publish stories that are “contrary to Islam,” “insult national figures” or violate “privacy,” are loosely based on Afghanistan’s existing national media law, which also incorporated a requirement to comply with international norms, including article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The absence of this requirement in the new rules opens the door to censorship and repression, because there is no indication as to who determines, or on what basis it is determined, that a comment or a report is contrary to Islam or disrespectful to a national figure.
Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has also asked Taliban to immediately cease detaining journalists in Afghanistan and allow the media to operate freely and without fear of reprisal.
Things have changed dramatically since the Taliban began its military advances after the US announced the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan.