Human Rights & Public Liberties

Human Rights & Public Liberties

Published on: 13 Jan, 2021

Concerns for safety of journalists in Afghanistan

Published on: 17 August, 2021
The body of a female media worker killed in Jalalabad in 2020 [Sadaqat Ghorzang/AP photo]

The body of a female media worker killed in Jalalabad in 2020 [Sadaqat Ghorzang/AP photo]

Many news networks are trying to evacuate their employees  from Afghanistan. The AP for example is seeking visas for former staff, freelancers and their families.

On Monday, Washington Post Publisher and CEO Fred Ryan sent an urgent request for help to the Biden administration on behalf of more than 200 journalists who work for the Washington Post, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal and their families.

For reasons of safety, the journalists wanted to be transported from the civilian to the military side of Kabul airport.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Barbara Trionfi executive director at the International Press Institute (IPI) said: ‘As the Taliban is taking over the country, journalists in the country, in particular those who have been supporting the international media as well as women journalists, are facing unprecedented risks.’

‘As governments are working to get their nationals out of the country, it is their responsibilities to ensure that journalists, who have played an important role in the effort to bring about a democratic transition in Afghanistan, be brought to safety as fast as possible. This must be a top priority’ , said Trionfi.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said it received requests from 475 journalists in Afghanistan, who work for both local and international news organisations. The journalists were asking for help to leave Afghanistan, said Maria Salazar-Ferro, the CPJ’s emergencies director.

Salazar-Ferro said she’s concerned about a ‘black hole for news’ in Afghanistan with so many journalists looking to leave.

According to A Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times, CPJ is working with the U.S. military, along with governments in Canada, France, Germany and Britain, to seek landing places for some of these journalists and their families.

Trionfi added: ‘Governments must fulfil their moral commitment to Afghanistan’s media community. This means concrete action, including the provision of travel documents and evacuation flights. There is no time for delay.’

On 6 August the Taliban ambushed and killed Dawa Khan Menapal, the director of Afghanistan’s government media center while he was driving his car in Kabul.