Award Winning Journalist at Forefront of Press Freedom Struggle in Afghanistan

by Genevieve Long for The Foreign Policy Association

Press freedom in war-torn Afghanistan is regressing to a Taliban-era level of restrictions, according to a recent report. Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a Paris-based press advocacy organization, visited Afghanistan in January to survey the current situation. Their report is entitled, “We have free speech, but we’re not safe and don’t act responsibly.”

“Because of the deterioration of the situation, some of them feel that they are back to a sort of Taliban situation,” said Vincent Brossel, Asia Director for RSF. Brossel spent a little over a week traveling throughout Afghanistan and interviewing local journalists. Brossel found that the situation is grim, and threats against working journalists are common. RSF also found that the Afghan Interior Ministry has been largely ineffective and even inactive in providing help and support.

“In fact, they [the Interior Ministry] don’t take action and their investigations rarely go to the end,” said Brossel, who points to the case of slain journalist Zakia Zaki. According to Brossel, she was killed by warlords and her murder was never “seriously” investigated. “Even the Interior Ministry once put pressure on her husband because he was asking for justice.”

Farida Nekzad, a veteran journalist of ten years who lives and works in Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul, says the greatest danger that journalists face comes from the dual threat of warlords and the Taliban.

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