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Media watchdog reports a sharp increase in violence against journalists

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(Last Updated On: February 4, 2021)

The Afghan Journalists Safety Committee said Thursday that it recorded 132 threats and violence against journalists in 2020 – a 26 percent increase compared to 2019.

This includes the death of seven journalists and media workers. Five were killed as a result of targeted killings and two with IEDs.

The AJSC said in its annual report, released Thursday, that this reports the worrying state of journalists safety and press freedom in the country.

“The rise in violence particularly the targeted killing of journalists has generated extensive fear among media workers, reduced media outlets’ content production capabilities, and expanded self-censorship,” the committee said.

The organizations stated that Afghanistan has reached a historically critical juncture and that although recent rounds of peace negotiations have caused some hopes that an end to the four-decade conflict may be in sight, the surge in violence – especially the targeted killing of journalists and civil society activists – has cast serious concerns over whether peace talks will succeed and whether core values enshrined in the constitution on freedom of expression and civil liberties will be protected if peace talks lead to a political settlement.

“The dramatically increased levels of direct attacks and assassinations of journalists at the end of 2020 has created widespread panic among media outlets and journalists across Afghanistan.

“These attacks have had a noticeably adverse effect on impartial and objective reporting, with many journalists admitting to reconsidering both how and whether to report on certain topics for fear of reprisal – effectively amounting to the increasingly widespread practice of self-censorship,” the AJSC said in a statement.

In addition, the economic impact of Covid-19 has compounded existing financial challenges for media outlets, often frustrating their efforts to raise sufficient funds, and thereby their capacity to generate media content.

The AJSC said media and civil society groups remain concerned that the delegation representing the Afghan Republic in negotiations with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar lacks a coherent strategy to preserve key constitutional rights including freedom of speech and a free and independent media.

“The Taliban’s ideological opposition to these values enhances concerns about the future of such freedoms. Further, the government’s efforts in early 2020 to draft a new Media Law, which could extensively limit press freedom if enacted, and the lack of meaningful commitment to investigate the cases of murdered journalists have fueled these concerns,” the statement read.

The report states that in 2020, AJSC recorded threats and violence against 132 journalists and media workers, which includes killing of journalists, injuring them, physical assault, kidnapping, various forms of threats, theft, verbal, legal and administrative abuse.

“2020 data shows 26 percent increase in violence and threats compared to 2019 in which AJSC recorded violence and threats against 105 journalists and media workers,” the statement read.

In addition to the seven journalists and media workers killed, 18 journalists and media workers were injured whilst reporting and on duty.

Another 10 journalists were physically assaulted, 47 threatened, 28 verbally abused and 13 journalists and media workers faced legal and administrative abuse by media managers.

Seven journalists were kidnapped and two experienced theft while gathering content from the field.

The AJSC said that based on data collected, Taliban and Daesh account for the majority of violence and threats against journalists. Government officials come second.

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IEA Council of Ministers meet to discuss numerous issues

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(Last Updated On: October 19, 2021)

A meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) was held on Monday at the Presidential Palace in Kabul under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, Zabiullah Mujahid, the deputy minister of information and culture said in a statement.

The meeting was followed by a report back on the economic activities carried out by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mawlavi Abdul Salam Hanafi, read the statement.

According to the IEA the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amir Khan Mottaqi also provided information on important issues related to foreign trips and meetings with foreign representatives.

During the meeting necessary decisions were also taken on some important issues, Mujahid said.

A delegation was also formed from the agencies of Nadir Pakhtun Markets, in Kabul, and for mining. These were tasked to discuss in principle the modalities of starting construction work as soon as possible and submit plans in order for the implementation of the plans, the statement said.

Also higher education officials were instructed to take serious steps to standardize the affairs of universities and urged the officials of private universities to attract students to the relevant faculties after obtaining the necessary legal licenses.

Meanwhile, in order to control and organize the affairs of NGOs, the relevant commissions were tasked to evaluate the course of affairs, the activities of which should be tailored to the interests of the country in all respects and in accordance with the policies of the Islamic Emirate.

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India plans to send food to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: October 19, 2021)

India plans to send food and medical aid to Afghanistan amid warnings that the nation could face a catastrophic famine this winter.

India is considering options to transport 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat and medical aid to Afghanistan. This, however, will be subject to Pakistan’s approval.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called for “urgent and unhindered” humanitarian assistance to Afghan citizens.

Speaking at the G20 summit on Afghanistan, Modi had noted that the Afghan people have a great feeling of friendship for India and that every Indian feels the pain of Afghan people facing hunger and malnutrition.

Meanwhile, UN World Food Programme (WFP) had earlier said it is in touch with India to donate wheat to Afghanistan.

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US will not join Russia’s Afghanistan talks this week

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(Last Updated On: October 19, 2021)

The United States will not join international talks on Afghanistan organized by Russia this week due to logistical reasons, but is open to participating in the future, the State Department said on Monday.

Moscow is hosting talks on Wednesday with officials from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), China and Pakistan, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special representative was quoted as saying last week.

“We will not participate in the Moscow talks. The Troika-plus has been an effective, a constructive forum. We look forward to engaging in that forum going forward, but we’re not in a position to take part this week,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

“It has been effective in the past, it’s just logistically difficult for us to take part this week,” Price said.

Asked if the United States supports the process, Price said: “We do.”

Moscow hosted a conference on Afghanistan in March at which Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan released a joint statement calling on the then-warring Afghan sides to reach a peace deal and curb violence.

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