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The Killid Group
Strengthening mediaWritten by Killid
Saturday, 10 December 2011 10:26
There can be no denying that the media is an Afghan success story. Strengthening independent media was the focus of a two-day bilateral seminar in Bonn on Nov 30 and Dec 1 organised by VENRO, an association of 120 German NGOs.
Five media managers - Radio Sahar's Humaira Habib, Pahjwok's Danish Karokhel, Tarawesh"s Sayed Najafizada, Killid's Shahir Zahine, Hindara Media Organisation's Ghousuddin Frotan - and 10 German journalists and editors reviewed a situation where major media achievements are coming under pressure. In the end, ways to protect the media were suggested.
The parties in conflict constantly restrict access to information to journalists, participants said. Women continue to face restrictions and to be harassed because they are female. Independent media continue to suffer from the imbalanced and short-term investment of the international community.
None of the past international conferences or agreements on development in Afghanistan had a clear focus in support of the media, they said.
Without identifying them, participants said there were doubtful powerbrokers and warlords among media owners who were an obstacle to freedom of speech and media.
With the increase of the military conflict from 2006, the media has been targeted as a tool of war, with Taleban and international military forces hijacking the public arena.
The ongoing conflict exposes Afghan journalists to harsh and life threatening
conditions with often no protection for their physical safety. Intimidation, self-censorship and lack of security remain sources of grave concern.
How to protect the media?
Participants proposed a set of recommendations to the Afghan state institutions and the international donor community:
- all political and social achievements of the past 10 years are not negotiable, including freedom of speech and media, human rights including political participation of women;
- the urgent need to revise the existing media law including a definition of the public media sector (existing non-profit media actors) in order to safeguard and strengthen those independent media that have proven essential over the past decade for Afghan civil society;
- establish a trust fund with the purpose of supporting the media sector that would be administrated by a transparent and independent body;
- help the establishment of an Afghan-managed journalism and communications institute to replace short-term trainings by academic curriculum;
- support the passing and implementation of the 'access to information act'.