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Rights group condemns Afghanistan press restrictions

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Thursday demanded [press release] that Afghanistan revoke recent National Security Directorate rules that restrict the freedom of the press and effectively ban journalists from writing about Afghanistan's failing security situation. Afghan journalists have said that the rules are a form of intimidation after major media organizations received a list of restrictions [text, PDF] on June 12, and then journalists received the list at their homes a week later. Afghan President Hamid Karzai [BBC profile], however, claims that the list is simply a request that journalists refrain from reporting such news, and not a government restriction, because there are no penalties for failing to comply.

The NSD list of restrictions includes "reports that aim to represent that the fighting spirit in Afghanistan's armed forces is weak" and "negative propaganda, interviews and reports which are provocative or slanderous" or that oppose the international coalition forces in Afghanistan. HRW called the rules a "blatant intrusion" on Afghanistan's freedom of the press and "an insult to the hard work and personal sacrifice of Afghan journalists who try to get the truth out to the public." A second advocacy group, Reporters Without Borders, criticized the restrictions [press release] as "absolutely outrageous." Radio Free Europe has more.

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