Asia - Pacific
Index 2024
178/ 180
Score : 19.09
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2023
152/ 180
Score : 39.75
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator

The Taliban takeover of this country of 40 million people sounded the death knell for press freedom and the safety of journalists, particularly women journalists. The media are now required to broadcast information that is controlled by the government. The repression of journalists has steadily intensified.

Media landscape

Since the Taliban came to power in August 2021, the media landscape has been decimated. In the space of three months, 43% of Afghan media outlets disappeared. More than two-thirds of the 12,000 journalists in the country in 2021 have left the profession. Eight out of ten women journalists have had to stop working. The few women journalists still working are subject to all kinds of restrictions (no access to official sources and no travelling without a chaperone, etc.) and abuse (harassment, very low or even non-existent salaries, etc.). The media face severe restrictions. Afghan TV and radio stations can no longer broadcast music, and women presenters must cover their faces.

Political context

On 7 September 2021, the Taliban announced the formation of their government, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Since then, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detentions have increased. The situation is particularly confusing for journalists who receive directives from many different parts of the government, including the Minister of Information and Culture, the Istikhbarat (Taliban intelligence), the Ministry for Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, and the Government Media and Information Center (GMIC). 

Legal framework

Enacted in September 2021, the "11 rules of journalism" paved the way for greater persecution. On 3 February 2022, government spokesperson and acting Deputy Minister of Information and Culture Zabihullah Mujahid said that the press law enacted in March 2015 was still in force. The Media Complaints and Rights Violations Commission (MCRVC), which is supposed to be the only entity handling complaints against the media, was suspended when the Taliban came to power, then reestablished in August 2022. The General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) continues to arrest and detain journalists arbitrarily.

Economic context

The economy, largely dependent on international aid, has collapsed. This has further undermined the media and made journalism even more precarious. Afghanistan's independent media, which had survived during the past two decades thanks to foreign funding and international projects, have been hit very hard by the suspension of international funding.

Sociocultural context

Criticism of the Taliban government is strictly forbidden, and self-censorship is the rule. Many subjects – such as religion, the status of women, minorities and human rights in general – are off-limits. Unofficial censorship is imposed by various means.  In some provinces, journalists must send their articles before publication to the local department of information and culture. Taliban are sometimes employed on the staff of media outlets in order to monitor them. And social media are closely monitored. Only a few Afghan media outlets in exile provide independent coverage of the country’s news. To access independent news reporting, Afghans turn to exiled or foreign media, accessible online to those with Internet access.   


The Taliban takeover led to a huge exodus of journalists. The threat of being arrested by Taliban security forces and the General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) hangs permanently over those who stayed. The GDI arrests them arbitrarily, holds them incommunicado, and tortures them for periods ranging from a few days to several months. Journalists working with foreign media or those in exile are particularly targeted, accused of spying and of giving a negative image of the Taliban. Franco-Afghan journalist Mortaza Behboudi was held for nine months after his arrest on 5 January 2023.