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Concerns over new amendments to media law

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(Last Updated On: June 16, 2020)

Lawyers say that the imposition of restrictions in the new amendments to the media law is in contrast with the constitution.

Officials in some media outlets and media supporting organizations do not see the new adjustments to be acceptable and warn that new restrictions on media outlets will weaken the defense of freedom of expression amid the peace talks.

A draft of the new amendment to the Public Media Law has been developed by the Ministry of Information and Culture; a part of it, in the perspective of the media community, is against the Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – it imposes new restrictions on the work of the media and the way to freedom of expression.

A number of members of parliament also say that amendments that are against the law will not be passed by the House.

From the point of view of the Afghan media community, the new amendments to the Public Media Law impose double and unnecessary restrictions, including censorship before and after publication, and unnecessarily withholding the truth in sensitive matters.

As the Afghan peace talks are around the corner, the imposition of such restrictions on the media is detrimental to the position of defending the freedom of expression at the negotiating table with the Taliban.

“I think it is just a draft, and there is a possibility for modification,” said Mujib Khalwatgar, head of Afghanistan’s Free Media Watch.

In response to the concerns, Saber Momand, the spokesman for the Ministry of Information and Culture, said, “The law on public media has not been amended yet. If there is any, it will be discussed with the media community.”

Also, the Afghan media community, in a letter, has shared its concerns with the President of Afghanistan.

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Kabul’s air pollution a serious ‘threat to life’, say doctors

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Doctors warned Sunday that the air pollution level in Kabul is dangerously high and that it was threatening the lives of many people.

One doctor Mohammad Hashim Wahaj, who spoke to Ariana News, said: “Air pollution is a serious and dangerous problem in Kabul.”

Doctors and resident’s called on government to take measures to stop people from burning fuels such as plastic and rubber and get them to rather use gas or electricity.

“People burn coal and other materials that produce smoke. That should be stopped,” said Mohammad Rasoul, a Kabul resident.

“People should use gas and electricity if they can afford it and avoid burning plastic and coal,” said Sohrab, another Kabul resident.

Kabul Municipality meanwhile said efforts are being made to reduce the air pollution level and that they have closed down a number of bathhouses, that burn fuel to heat the water.

Naimatullah Barakzai, the municipality’s head of public awareness and publications department, said that among the central heating systems used in the city are two that run on gas.

According to him there are at least 1,100 other types but these run on coal and wood.

Barakzai said while the municipality would like more people to use gas furnaces and heaters, most of them are not able to afford it.

He said if the people had the money they would rather use “modern equipment”.

Kabul’s air pollution levels increase dramatical each winter as people make fires to keep warm. But, poverty-stricken residents often resort to burning toxic materials such as plastic, car tyres and coal to heat their homes.

In addition to this, the city lies in a valley surrounded by towering Hindu Kush mountain peaks, which reduces the mixing of air, particularly in winter when temperature inversions regularly form and with little rain to remove the pollution from the atmosphere, this accumulates during winter.

Afghanistan documented nearly 5,000 deaths attributed to air pollution in 2020 – deaths due to respiratory and heart diseases that were considered to be caused by air pollution, a health official said in January.

Kabul meanwhile was also considered the world’s worst polluted city last year and is on track to remain among the most polluted cities in 2021.

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Qatar in talks with Turkey on managing Kabul Airport

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Qatar’s foreign minister said that discussions are being held with Turkey about them taking responsibility for the operational control of Kabul International Airport.

Addressing the Mediterranean Dialogues (MED) forum in Rome on Saturday, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that all issues around fully reopening Kabul airport are being discussed with Turkish officials.

This comes after airlines stopped flying into Kabul at the end of August. However, limited commercial flights resumed in recent weeks, including Afghanistan’s Kam Air and Ariana Airlines, as well as Pakistan’s PIA. Qatar Airways has also had regular chartered flights into Kabul.

Al-Thani meanwhile said Doha officials have been hard at work to get the Kabul airport fully operational.

“We have been working together very closely on the issue of the airport, whether on the assessment of requirements to get the airport operational again, or on the management agreement with the Taliban (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) government to operate the airport in the future.”

Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) said that in the event of a contract being drawn up with a foreign country, national interests will be preserved.

“No contract for Kabul International Airport has been signed so far. We have made our conditions clear for companies based on our national interests. If company’s respect our national interests, we will sign contracts with them,” said Amamudin Ahmadi, a spokesman for the ACAA.

 

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Passport offices to open in another 14 provinces: IEA

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said Sunday that government will begin the application and distribution process of passports in 14 additional provinces this week.

According to the IEA, the distribution process will start in Farah, Nimruz, Badghis, Paktika, Samangan, Laghman, Uruzgan, Kunar, Takhar, Zabul, Jawzjan, Bamiyan, Panjsher, and Baghlan provinces on Monday.

Alam Gul Haqqani, Head of the Passport Department, stated the department is providing fair services to all Afghans, and urged the public not to pay passport forgers money.

Haqqani added that the distribution of passports in Kabul would be resumed as soon as technical issues have been resolved.

“We have purchased new machines. As I have said before, some of these [machines] arrived, and the rest will be delivered [in the future]. Inshallah, we will resume our work as soon as we receive our machines,” Haqqani said.

The process of issuing passports also started in Balkh, Herat, Kandahar, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Khost and Paktia provinces three weeks ago.

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