IFJ Decries Taliban Block on International Media as Major Blow To Press Freedom in Afghanistan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Wednesday criticized the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan for blocking international media as a major blow to the freedom of press and public access to information across the country.

The IFJ called on the Taliban to immediately reverse the decision on banning foreign media, including BBC, Voice of America, DW, and others as it is the right of the Afghan people to receive information about their country.

“The targeting of international media follows the imposition of extremely tight restrictions on national and local Afghan media and journalists’ work and comes amid growing efforts by the government to crack down on civil liberties in the country,” IFJ said in a statement.

According to a survey carried out by the Afghanistan’s National Journalists Union (ANJU) supported by the IFJ, 52% of respondents said they were following international media over local and national media since the Afghan government collapse.

The study also found massive support and confidence towards international media, with 89% of respondents saying they trust international outlets operating in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, another 67% respondents said that they trust in national and local media despite the continuing restrictions on their freedom of work and the closure of hundreds of media outlets, the IFJ said.

Surveyed Afghan journalists and civil society leaders said that an atmosphere of fear and panic is the biggest concern for journalists, as authorities de facto close media outlets or detain journalists for doing their job.

Previously IFJ reported that just 305 of the 623 media which were active before the Taliban took control, are still operating.

“The collapse of media sector threats against journalists means just 2334 journalists are still working from a pre-Taliban high of 5069. Most of the journalists who have lost their jobs are women,” according to IFJ.

“Afghan people are being systematically denied their right to access to independent journalism under the passive gaze of the international community, which has failed to put pressure on the Taliban to respect the most basic rights,” IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger said.  

Bellanger called on the Taliban to “reverse this decision and allow the broadcasting of all international media without restrictions.”

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