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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Afghan Government Restricts Journalists’ Access To Information

The order came after a spokesman for the governor of Takhar was fired for confirming the death of 12 people including children in an airstrike in the province.

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AFGHANISTAN. Herat: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani stated a new order restricting governors of 34 provinces of Afghanistan from appointing any spokesperson. Governors are urged to directly address media and journalists to share information on any matter concerning the government. This order came after a spokesman for the governor of Takhar was fired for confirming the death of 12 people including children in an airstrike in the province.

The spokesman Javed Hijri told Tolo News that he faced is accused of misreporting to media and hence fired after confirming the death of the civilians died in an airstrike by Afghan security forces.

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A document sent to the Independent Office of Local Governance by Afghanistan National Security Council shows the order of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. The document states the order to fire the spokesman of Takhar governor for sharing “incorrect” information with BBC about the aftermath of an attack by airforce on a mosque.

A copy of the document leaked on media shows the president order to terminate the job of governors’ spokesmen.

“The spokesman for Takhar governor must be fired. Every governor is responsible for providing information and after this, the governors don’t have the right of having spokesmen,” the document states.

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This comes at a time when in a “mistake” airstrike targeting a Madrassa in Baharak district of Takhar, leaving 12 dead and 14 wounded. Media outlets published the news quoting the spokesman of Takhar governor. But later the first vice president Amrullah Saleh reacted and denied the responsibility.

Also read: Afghan Women Forced To Avoid Sports For The Sake Of Virginity

Curbing the journalists’ access to information

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Based on this new order issued by the President, which leaked on media, all the governors of Afghanistan must speak to the media directly and must not have spokesmen. But for Journalists, this will curb their access to information.

The amendment took the media staff in Afghanistan by worries. Some Journalists claim the decision created huge challenges for them to reach information. Arshiya Govhari, a Journalist tweeted on Monday,” There was an explosion in Badghis province, in the west of Afghanistan, earlier this morning. I called Hasamaddin Shams, governor of Badghis, and he told me that he is in a ceremony and can’t talk.” Adding that this brought him many challenges.

Fariba, a Journalist from Herat told Transcontinental Times that she had difficulties reaching the governor’s spokesman in the past. Now this will make it even more ”difficult” for her.

Afghan Journalists react to the order

Banning the provincial spokesmen from providing information or talking to the media on behalf of governors is a challenge for Journalists. Many Afghan Journalists raise their concern over this change. “Afghan government has always considered free media and freedom of speech as one of its great achievements. Seems this great achievement is under attack,” Fahim Abed, a reporter for the New York Times wrote on his Twitter account.

Another Journalist from Herat who did not want his name to be revealed said this comes apparently after a spokesman for Takhar province revealed to Journalists that kids were killed by local forces airstrikes. “I am worried from now on, how can I access information. I am sure the governor will not answer all the queries raised by Journalists. This is disgusting.”

“This is freedom of expression and democracy. Because a spokesman confirmed the deaths of children in the government airstrikes, President Ghani and national security advisor Mohib terminate the job of all spokesmen of provinces around the country,” a Journalist told Transcontinental Times on the condition of being anonymous.

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