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Journalists continue to face culture of impunity in Afghanistan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has expressed concern over reports from the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) about a series of attacks against journalists.

According to the IFJ-AIJA project office, unidentified gunmen in two cars chased a producer with Afghanistan Radio Television (ART), Ali Asghar Akbarzada, as he drove home from work on December 3. The attackers fired shots at Akbarzada, who was however not injured.

Akbarzada told AIJA that he had no personal disputes. He believed he was targeted due to his programme, Ayna-e-Share (City Mirror), in which he discusses corrupt government officials, criminals and other sensitive issues. The gunmen had escaped by the time police arrived, although bullets were found at the scene.

Omar Mohammadi, a radio journalist for Salam Watandar, was verbally and physically abused by police on December 4 while he reported on a suicide attack on the airport road in Kabul.

Mohammadi said he was attacked by a police officer who grabbed his recorder from him while trying to kick and punch him. Bodyguards working with police also reportedly pointed their guns toward Mohammadi. Police returned Mohammadi’s equipment several hours later.

Ehsanullah Shahidzai, a journalist for a state-run ART (Afghanistan Radio Television) Laghman radio station in the eastern Laghman province, was released on December 4 after a week in detention. He had been accused of having links with the Taliban and expressing anti-government sentiments.

Shahidzai was freed after representatives from AIJA and the Committee to Protect Afghan Journalists (CPAJ) met national security officials at the provincial centre of Mehtarlam to negotiate his release.

IFJ has joined AIJA and CPAJ in calling on authorities in Afghanistan to guarantee freedom of expression as a democratic right, and to investigate attacks quickly and thoroughly to send a clear message that persecution of the press will not be tolerated.

Date posted: December 11, 2007 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 335