Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, January 21st, 2018

Cases of Violence against Journalists must be Pursued

Recently, concerns have been raised again in the country regarding the unwillingness of the relevant authorities to pursue the cases of the violence against journalists. Earlier in the week Nai – an organization supporting Afghan media – raised concerns regarding the plight of journalists and the response of the government authorities to deal with the cases of violence that have been targeting the journalists in the country.
President Ghani’s second vice-president Sarwar Danish has recently highlighted that the cases of violence against Afghan journalists have not been investigated properly. On Wednesday, Oct 19, he called on Afghanistan's Attorney General to launch an investigation into the matter. He said in his statement, "Cases related to threats and violence against journalists remained pending within the ministry of interior, only a few cases were referred to the attorney general from amongst several hundred cases."
Statistics show that this year has been one of the deadliest years for Afghan journalists. So far in the year, about 14 journalists have been killed, which includes last week's incident of murder in Zabul in which a well-known journalist, Mohammad Yaqoob, from Afghanistan National Radio Television (RTA) was killed by a group of armed men.
Meanwhile, Media Coordination Committee (MCC), a newly established organization, having the responsibility to ensure the safety of journalists and their media activities has also raised concerns over inaction of relevant authorities to investigate the cases of violence against reporters in Afghanistan.
The situation for Afghan journalists does not seem to be getting any better. The rising insecurity and the lack of attention to the plight of the journalists has led to some very difficult circumstances that the journalists have to go through so as to perform their duties. Even the foreign journalists are facing serious difficulties in fulfilling their responsibilities. Kabul police recently warned the foreign nationals and the journalists in particular to limit their travels in the city because of security risks and the risks of kidnapping that seems to be on the rise.
Afghan media organizations feel that the current warning by the police, in fact, demoralizes the spirits of the journalists in the country and would bar them from collecting information. Instead, the security authorities must ensure the security of the country as a whole and of the journalists, in particular.
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.