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Taliban set 11 rules for journalists; RSF expresses fear

KABUL: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has expressed its disappointment as the Taliban have issued 11 rules for the media organisations on September 19 in a meeting with the media.

This was counted as a new way of the terrorist outfit Taliban towards censorship and persecution of the media.

“Decreed without any consultation with journalists, these new rules are spine chilling because of the coercive use that can be made of them, and they bode ill for the future of journalistic independence and pluralism in Afghanistan,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.

The first three rules released by the Taliban forbid journalists to broadcast or publish stories that are “contrary to Islam,” “insult national figures” or violate “privacy” which are closely similar to Afghanistan’s previous national media rules.

There is no indication of who decides if a comment or a report is anti-Islamic or disrespectful to a national figure, or on what basis this decision is made, which opens door towards censorship and repression.

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Rules 7 and 8 make it easier to reintroduce news control, or even prior censorship, in Afghanistan, which hasn’t happened in 20 years. “Matters that have not been confirmed by officials at the time of broadcasting or publication should be managed with care,” they say, adding that “matters that could have a negative influence on the public’s attitude or harm morale should be handled cautiously when being aired or published.”

The last two rules (10 and 11), which reveal that the GMIC has “designed a specific form to make it easier for media outlets and journalists to prepare their reports in accordance with the regulations,” and those media outlets must now “prepare detailed reports in coordination with the GMIC,” heighten the risk of a return to news control or prior censorship. The nature of these “detailed reports” is yet unknown.

The ninth guideline, which requires media outlets to “adhere to the concept of impartiality in what they disseminate” and “only report the truth,” could be interpreted in a variety of ways, leaving journalists vulnerable to arbitrary retaliation.

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