Monitoring violence against journalists in Afghanistan

The Afghan Journalist Safety Committee, which works closely with CPJ, has just published a report on media conditions and attacks on journalists for the first six months of 2013.

Partners like AJSC are fundamental in ensuring that the tracking of press freedom violations is closely based on facts on the ground–particularly in countries like Afghanistan, where information is hard to get and often of questionable accuracy. AJSC is the first group I check in with whenever I get to Kabul.

AJSC is based in Kabul, with representatives throughout the country. It is an initiative of the Copenhagen-based International Media Support group funded by the Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish governments. We and other outside media support groups have relied for several years on the AJSC network to vet requests for assistance.

In addition to a list of assaults on journalists and media workers (AJSC counts 41 incidents ranging from firings at TV crew cars to texted threats, physical and verbal abuse, and an apparently accidental shooting), the 17-page report looks at economic changes in the media and corroborates what CPJ posted earlier in the year in “Once Thriving, Afghan Media Now Endangered.” Along with the shrinking number of outlets, media are falling into the hands of powerful provincial leaders and foreign interests.  The report takes special aim at the problem facing women journalists in Afghanistan, many of whom are leaving the profession because of threats to their families.

One note on reported cases of deaths in Afghanistan: AJSC’s report lists two journalists killed in the first six months of 2013, but the motives behind the killings are unclear. Based on my discussions with AJSC in Kabul and our own investigation, neither case fits CPJ’s criteria of journalists killed because of their work, so we haven’t included these two on our list.