Taliban authorities in Afghanistan have imposed wide-ranging restrictions on media and free speech that are already stifling criticism and dissent, Human Rights Watch said today.
During a late September meeting with journalists in Kabul, the Taliban Ministry of Information and Culture distributed media regulations whose provisions are so broad and vague as to prohibit virtually any critical reporting about the Taliban.
“Despite the Taliban’s promises to allow media that ‘respected Islamic values’ to function, the new rules are suffocating media freedom in the country
,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Taliban regulations are so sweeping that journalists are self-censoring and fear ending up in prison.”
A copy of the regulations seen by Human Rights Watch says that media are prohibited from printing or broadcasting reports that “are contrary to Islam,” “insult national figures,” or “distort news content.” Journalists are required to “ensure that their reporting is balanced” and not report on “matters that have not been confirmed by officials” or issues that “could have a negative impact on the public’s attitude.” Media outlets are required to “prepare detailed reports” with the new governmental regulatory body before publication.