Afghanistan's "Must Ban TV" and Other Press Concerns

"Intimidation and harassment of the Afghan news media have come from a variety of sources," reports Pamela Constable, "including government prosecutors, police, regional militias, parliament, Islamic clerical councils and U.S.-led military forces." The Afghan parliament is considering banning "news coverage that disturbs the public or has an 'un-Islamic' theme." The measure, which is expected to pass in some form, would also "give the Ministry of Information and Culture full control of state-run broadcast media." Fazel Sangcharaki, who heads Afghanistan's National Union of Journalists, said, "We are very concerned about the state of press freedom. ... The government is getting weaker, and they do not want the media to expose its flaws." Afghanistan's new constitution guarantees freedom of the press, and the number of news outlets has increased dramatically. But reporters are often intimidated, attacked or even killed. Afghan officials have repeatedly targeted the popular "Tolo TV"; the Afghan attorney general ordered three of its journalists arrested, its cameras are banned from parliamentary debates, and its "hard-hitting talk show" was banned.