Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Afghan media beset by threat of government control

While the Afghan media law was liberalized under President Hamid Karzai, the Afghan government is now considering amendments that critics say would restrict freedom of the press, The New York Times reported Sunday.

After saying that Karzai still firmly supports freedom the press, Khaleeq Ahmad, Karzai’s spokesman, said that the amendments are needed in order to prevent journalists from acting irresponsibly and printing erroneous material. The minister of information and culture, Abdul Karim Khuram, also said he supports the amendments and said that Afghan National Radio and Television should remain state run. “The current situation regarding security, and social, political and cultural needs is such that the government should have its own radio, television and newspapers,” he said.

According to the article, the proposed amendments mainly prohibit “coverage seen as violating the provisions of Islam or insulting other religions” and also coverage insulting “individuals and corporations, without allowing truth as a defense.” The amendments also seek to replace Afghan’s independent media commission, which according to the article, “monitors the application of the law and judges complaints,” with by a body under stricter government control.

Meanwhile, the upper house of Afghan Parliament issued an amnesty bill on Sunday aimed at, according to the article, “factions and political groups involved in past hostilities.” While the United Nations, human rights organizations and some members of Parliament have criticized the bill, supporters call it a necessary step for national reconciliation and peace.

For the full article, click here.


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