Press freedom guarantees crucial for peace
Although the peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government that began in September 2020 offer the hope of a respite, violence against journalists and media outlets has increased significantly. Six journalists and media workers have been the victims of targeted killings since the start of 2020. A definitive peace is far from assured and the guarantees for press freedom and the protection of journalists of the past 18 years are now threatened. The current level of violence and the number of journalists killed are nonetheless slightly less than in 2018, the deadliest year for the media since the Taliban regime fell in 2001. These problems have been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has taken the lives of at least seven journalists and has caused economic problems forcing many media outlets to lay off staff or reduce the hours they work (with a corresponding loss in pay). Women journalists have been the first to go. The government and the Coordinating Committee for the Safety of Journalists and Media have reinforced measures defending press freedom. Despite resisting, women journalists continue to be vulnerable in a country where they are among the leading targets of fundamentalist propaganda, which circulates widely in several regions. There is much concern that basic freedoms, including the freedom of women journalists, could be sacrificed for the sake of a peace deal. In response to this threat, the RSF-backed Centre for the Protection of Afghan Women Journalists has waged several campaigns for the protection of the rights of women journalists as a precondition for a lasting peace.
122 in 2020
37.70 in 2020