Taliban's '11 rules' for journalists prompt censorship worry

Taliban's '11 rules' for journalists prompt press censorship concerns
2 min read
24 September, 2021
The Taliban has released a list of rules for journalists in Afghanistan including not publishing anything that goes against Islam, prompting concerns over censorship.
The Taliban has been accused of censoring the press [Getty]

The Taliban has been accused of censoring the press after it released a new framework for journalists, including what they can and cannot publish.

The eleven rules for journalists were announced this week by Qari Muhammad Yousuf Ahmadi, the interim director of the Government Media and Information Center.

Journalists cannot publish topics that are in conflict with Islam or insulting to national figures, and reporters have been told that they must coordinate with the government media office, The New York Times reported.

The new directives have concerned journalists in Afghanistan and abroad.

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More than 100 anonymous journalists, including 20 women, have issued an urgent appeal to the international community through press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders.

“We are issuing a solemn appeal today to the international institutions to obtain concrete commitments from Afghanistan’s new leaders in the negotiations now under way,” the statement reads.

“Already fewer than one in seven women journalists are still working in Kabul. Despite public undertakings by the Taliban, we see concrete signs of an undeclared general crackdown that includes threats to journalists in the field, intimidation of news media and indirect censorship.”

The problem with the rules is that they can be used coercively, says Christopher Deloire, the Reporters Without Borders secretary general.

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The appeal went on to add: “We call for a campaign on behalf of press freedom in our country, for the preservation of the gains of the past 20 years, including media independence, pluralism, and the protection of journalists.

"The international institutions have a duty to safeguard respect for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Afghanistan ratified.”

The Taliban came under fire last month after several journalists were beaten up for covering a women’s protest at a police station in Kabul.

Both reporters were beaten badly, with one left with an irreparably damaged eardrum and partial loss of vision in one eye.