Reporters in Afghanistan already facing threats from the Taliban are now under such pressure from Daesh that information “black holes” are springing up in the country, media-freedom campaigners are warning.
France-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is calling on the Afghan authorities to protect journalists who not only face physical danger from militants, but an information blackout from official sources.
In a statement earlier this week, RSF said that while some countries – including the US, Iran and Qatar – were “normalizing” relations with the Taliban, the militants were intensifying attacks on civilians and “openly threatening freedom of information”.
In regions like Badakhshan and Nangarhar, RSF say journalists have been forced to stop working altogether as entire villages have fallen under rebel control.
Freedom of information in provinces including Badakhshan, Nangarhar, Baghlan and Nuristan has gone from being “limited to non-existent, giving rise to new information black holes”, RSF warn.
Local journalists also say they face a critical lack of access. One Afghan journalist in the eastern Nangarhar province told Anadolu Agency that reporters there do not have access to information from local officials.
“Despite the law of ‘Access to Information’ having already been approved by government, reporters have faced too many challenges in receiving information from sources here,” Zerak Faheem says.
The NGO ranked Afghanistan 122nd out of 180 countries in its 2015 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index; two journalists have been gunned down already this year.
At least 27 journalists, including 16 foreigners, have been killed either by Taliban militants or other illegal armed groups, since the Taliban regime was toppled by US-led coalition forces in late 2001.
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