Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, October 22nd, 2018

1394 – The Deadliest Year for Journalists

Recently the security situation in Afghanistan has been influencing all the factions of the society but the journalists and media personnel have been greatly influenced lately, or even in the last year. A recent report by Nai, an organization supporting open media in Afghanistan, has revealed in its annual report that the solar year 1394 (March 2016 to March 2016) has been the deadliest year for the journalists and media personnel. The year has also noticed an 85% increase in violence against them. 
According to the report, at least 116 cases of violence against journalists were recorded during the year – 64 of them committed by the Taliban, 26 by government officials, one by NATO troops and 21 cases were at the hands of unknown people.
Sediqullah Tawhidi, Nai Executive Chief, said in a statement, "Based on our information and assessments, 12 reporters (including media workers) were killed, 23 wounded, three others were imprisoned temporarily, 15 were assaulted and 63 others were threatened… The journalists in Afghanistan, for the first time, were being directly targeted and that the recent attack on TOLO TV staff had been one of the most shocking acts against media workers ever in the country. Certain elements inside government have tried to influence media and journalists. This has not been seen evidently but it is a fact as we have received some information in this regard.”
The report shows some serious concerns regarding the security of the journalists and therefore many journalists even opted to leave the country; few even lost their lives on the way to Europe.
Mostly, the societies that are well developed and have great respect for knowledge and information, make sure that the rights of the journalists are guarded properly and they are provided with such circumstances wherein they are able to perform their responsibilities with full dedication and devotion.
On the other hand, the societies that suffer from political instability and experience wars, and disturbances and do not recognize the worth of true knowledge and information tend to forget the vital responsibility of guarding the rights of the journalists. The journalists in such societies tend to suffer from different sorts of discriminations and, unfortunately, even lose their lives.
Mostly conflict zones are dangerous for the journalists. In order to provide true and timely information, the journalists have to move into or close to the places where wars and conflicts happen. They, therefore, put their lives at risk and try to fulfill their responsibilities. Different groups, organizations or countries in such zones have to be very careful about the rights of journalists and make sure they are not targeted. However, that does not seem to happen and many journalists lose their valuable lives every year. Moreover, because of the influence and approach of different extremist networks, the number of journalists losing their lives in the peaceful countries is also alarming.
Apart from the right to life, according to International law, journalists are entitled for certain other rights as well which all the governments and organizations around the world must respect. Journalists, according to the Declaration of Rights and Duties of the Journalists, must have free access to all information sources, and the right to freely inquire on all events conditioning public life. Therefore, secret of public or private affairs may be opposed only to journalists in exceptional cases and for clearly expressed motives.
Therefore, any factor hindering the journalists from having access to all information sources must be considered illegal and should be eliminated.
Moreover, the journalist have the right to refuse subordination to anything contrary to the general policy of the information organ to which he collaborates such as it has been laid down by writing and incorporated in his contract of employment, as well as any subordination not clearly implicated by this general policy. And, the journalists cannot be compelled to perform a professional act or to express an opinion contrary to his convictions or his conscience.
Ill-fatedly, Afghanistan is also one of the countries that have not been giving enough heed to the rights of the journalists. The war and conflicts and the negligence of the relevant authorities have resulted in different sorts of discrimination against the journalists in the county. Afghan government and different other organizations and groups must make sure that they strive to protect the rights of the journalists as they are not a party to the conflict and do not serve anyone’s purpose.
Provided that the rights of the journalists are protected, it is important that the journalists must fulfill their responsibilities in the best possible manner. They are required to respect truth whatever be the consequence to themselves, because of the right of the public to know the truth; defend freedom of information, comment and criticism; and report only on facts of which they know the origin of; not to suppress essential information nor alter texts and documents and not to use unfair methods to obtain news, photographs or documents.