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NAI dubs current year ‘worst’ for access to information

NAI dubs current year ‘worst’ for access to information

Sep 28, 2016 - 19:01

KABUL (Pajhwok): Free media advocacy group NAI on Wednesday dubbed the current year as “worst” for journalists with regard to access to information and said the period saw 72 percent of reporters subjected to violence.

The organization, which supports free media in Afghanistan, said this year more restrictions were placed on access to information compared to the past seven years.

Head of media watch at NAI, Sediqullah Tawhidi, told a press conference on the occasion of International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) that 575 cases of violence against journalists were registered during the past seven years, of which 190 incidents happened when reporters were in search of information.   

Tawhidi said NAI findings during this Gregorian year showed 58 cases of violence against journalists occurred including 42 incidents that took place when journalists attempted to gain access to information.

He said 2011 was best year compared to past seven years because 80 cases were registered that year including just 15 cases when journalists sought access to information.

Based on a NAI tally of registered cases, 33 percent of the cases happened during journalists seeking information, he said.

The percentage was 7% in 2010, 18% in 2011, 34% in 2012, 38% in 2013, 32% in 2014, 26% in 2015 and 72 % in 2016, a big difference, he added.

Tawhidi expressed concern over the increase in violent cases and said despite endorsement of the right to access information law and the formation of the Oversight Commission on Access to Information (OCAI) by the government, the year 2016 was the worst year with regard to access to information.

As an example of violence against journalists in accessing information, he said “boycotting today’s Wolesi Jirga session by some journalists was a result of inappropriate behavior by the house’s secretariat employees towards reporters.”  

“I request the government to seriously pay attention to this behavior; those who subject reporters to violence under any reason should be punished and tried under the Constitution so the violence rate against journalists could be decreased.”    

He said President Ghani had stressed giving journalist access to information during a conference arranged by the Afghanistan Federation of Journalists and issued a quick verdict in this regard but still reporters were denied access to information.  

He said all ministers, governors and heads of government organizations should know that they weren’t owners of information.