December 17, 2018

Press Freedom

Afghanistan

OPC Protests Afghani Gag Order


H.E. Hamid Karzai

President

Gul Khana Palace

Presidential Palace

Kabul

Islamic State of Afghanistan

Fax: (011.93.2) 252.6340


Your Excellency:


We are dismayed by last week’s order of your National Directorate of Security that local and international media must stop reporting from the scene of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.


According to the directorate’s spokesman, Said Ansari, “Live coverage does not benefit the government, but benefits the enemies of Afghanistan.” He cited Article 7 of the Internal Security Law of Afghanistan as grounds for the order, which follows a Taliban attack in the centre of Kabul on 27 February in which seventeen people were killed. The suicide operation highlighted the government’s weakness and the ability of the insurgents to strike at the heart of the capital. Rather than let that story be told, several journalists who were at the scene of the events were arrested and their equipment was confiscated.


Under last week’s order, journalists may not approach or report from the scene of such attacks until the initial investigation and government operations have finished and permission has been granted. Ansari said that this order is also for the protection of journalists, who might be injured if the scene was not completely secured.


Your Excellency, Afghanis have a right to be informed of what is happening in their country. Professional journalists are fully prepared to make decisions regarding their own safety. We can only conclude that our colleagues at Reporters Without Borders are correct in observing that the order is “a veiled bid to disguise the realities of the conflict and to conceal events that are not to the advantage of the government and coalition forces.”


The Overseas Press Club of America, an independent organization that has defended press freedom around the world for more than seventy years, urges you to reverse this decision.


Respectfully yours,

Larry Martz
Kevin McDermott

Co-chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee

cc:


H.E. Said Tayeb Jawad

Ambassador of Afghanistan to the U.S.A.

Embassy of the Islamic State of Afghanistan

2118 Kalorama Road, NW

Washington, DC 20008

Fax: (202) 483.6488


Ambassador Zahir Tanin

Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of the Islamic State of Afghanistan to the United Nations

360 Lexington Avenue

New York, NY 10017

Fax: (212) 972.1216


H.E. Karl W. Eikenberry

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan

Embassy of the United States of America

The Great Mastoid Road, Kabul

Afghanistan

Fax: (011.93.2) 230.1364


Ms. Jean MacKenzie

Afghanistan Programme Director

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

jrmackenzie2004@yahoo.com


Lloyd Robertson

Senior Editor

CTV

newsonline@ctv.ca