Home Media Media Repression Escalates Under Taliban Rule in Afghanistan After Two Years

Media Repression Escalates Under Taliban Rule in Afghanistan After Two Years

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Media Repression Escalates Under Taliban Rule in Afghanistan After Two Years


Under Taliban rule, Afghanistan’s media landscape has undergone a dramatic transformation, straying far from the promises of press freedom and women’s rights made during their resurgence in 2021. Initially pledging to uphold media independence and women’s rights as a marker of their supposed moderation, the Taliban’s actions over the past two years have starkly contradicted their earlier assurances.

Since seizing control of Kabul, the Taliban have intensified their suppression of the media, resorting to censorship, physical assaults, arbitrary arrests, and restrictions on female journalists, effectively stifling independent reporting. Despite public declarations allowing journalists to operate freely, Taliban operatives, particularly from the General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI), have targeted media professionals. They have shut down local news outlets, banned broadcasts of international media, and imposed visa restrictions on foreign correspondents, hindering their ability to report from within Afghanistan.

Since August 2021, at least 64 journalists have been arbitrarily detained in retaliation for their work, with many facing precarious situations both inside and outside the country. The exodus of Afghan journalists, primarily to neighboring countries like Pakistan and Iran, has created a crisis of legal uncertainty, leaving many stranded without clear pathways for resettlement and at risk of deportation back to Afghanistan.

Moreover, the Taliban’s crackdown extends beyond traditional media to social media platforms, with new regulations targeting YouTube channels and discussions of a potential ban on Facebook. This tightening of controls further restricts the flow of information to millions of Afghans, prompting some YouTubers to adopt roles as citizen journalists, albeit under increased risk.

While the Taliban engage in diplomatic efforts to alleviate the country’s economic woes and address humanitarian crises, their tightening grip on media freedom exacerbates Afghanistan’s isolation from the global community. This isolation not only undermines economic prospects but also exacerbates the suffering of millions reliant on humanitarian aid for survival.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) continues to receive distressing accounts from Afghan journalists facing hostility both within the country and in exile. Recognizing Afghanistan’s status as one of the highest-ranked countries for CPJ’s exile support, efforts have been intensified to provide assistance, including immigration support and financial aid, to journalists seeking refuge abroad.

To counter the Taliban’s media crackdown and support Afghan journalists, CPJ advocates for sustained international pressure, employing diplomatic and political measures such as travel bans and targeted sanctions. Additionally, there’s a call for streamlined visa processes and broader resettlement initiatives to provide tangible support to exiled journalists and ensure the continuation of their crucial work. Collaborating with relevant agencies to extend humanitarian and technical assistance to journalists still operating within Afghanistan is also imperative to safeguard press freedom in the country.

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