JURIST EXCLUSIVE – Law students and lawyers in Afghanistan are filing reports with JURIST on the situation there after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban. Here, a lawyer in Kabul offers his observations and perspective on recent changes in media outlets and media posture in Afghanistan since the Taliban took power. For privacy and security reasons we are withholding his name and institutional affiliation. The text has been only lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.
According to local media news, 153 Afghan media outlets have stopped operations since the Taliban came to re-rule Afghanistan. According to officials, these outlets include radio, print and TV channels. Both economic problems and restrictions are reportedly the main reasons for shutdowns.
Since the start of the Taliban regime there were and are many debates between the Taliban, civil society organizations, and many media workers such as journalists, reporters, etc. on how important it is to preserve progress made in the two last decades concerning media in Afghanistan. The international community has emphasized that the Taliban should respect freedom of speech and support media. However, it seems that in some cases the Taliban have banned media coverage and even beaten up journalists to stop them from reporting.
Looking into the current situation, I believe media is one of the sectors that the Taliban seriously want to control in the country. They have made some commitments that they will not hurt media working alongside their personnel, but there is no guarantee that they will keep their promises/commitments. Also, looking at TV programs these days, it seems that media workers have a fear of being harmed.
The stoppage of the media operations in the last month is, I believe, due to three primary factors:
1. Almost all of organizations which used to support media are now not in the country.
2. Most of those were funded by foreign donors which are now not in Afghanistan.
3. A large number of journalists, reporters, writers, and other media personnel have left the country.
Additionally, the recent incidents involving journalists are also of concern to media workers who are staying to work in the country. I believe you have seen news and video showing how a number of journalists were beaten by the Taliban.
Previously, local media used to show a number of US, Turkish, Indian, and etc. dramas. These TV shows and foreign dramas are now giving way to more Islamic programs.
If things continue like this, I believe that in the not-so-far future there will be a signifucant number of media controlled by the Taliban.