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Freedom of expression ‘worst’ under unity govt: NAI

Freedom of expression ‘worst’ under unity govt: NAI

Oct 09, 2017 - 18:01

KABUL (Pajhwok): Free media supporting organization NAI on Monday said tolerance to the freedom of expression was worst in the national unity government’s tenure compared to past governments.

According to a NAI report released on Monday said scrutinizing some cases of violence against journalists was the unity government’s only achievement in strengthening the freedom of expression.

Violence against reporters, censorship, short-term detentions, closing of media outlets, restrictions on access to information and migration of journalists abroad are main topics discussed in the report.

NIA Executive Director Mujib Khelwatgar said a huge difference was noticed in violence against journalists when the unity government was compared with the government of former president Hamid Karzai. Violence against journalists increased by four times in the Ashraf Ghani-led government, he said.

He said 260 incidents of violence happened to journalists between October 2014 and October 2017-- higher than the incidents between 2001 and 2014.

Khelwatgar said censorship increased under the unity government and a NAI survey showed journalists and citizens were unhappy over curbs on the access to information.

As many as 112 media outlets have been closed since the incumbent government’s coming into power while no media out was closed in the previous governments.

In addition, 500 journalists and media employees were among those fleeing the country due to insecurity and unclear future of Afghanistan.

“The only positive step taken by the national unity government towards the freedom of speech was investigation into cases of violence against journalists.”

The government has so far assessed 170 cases of violence against journalists while tens of cases are yet to be opened.