New York, April 19, 2022 — The Taliban must immediately investigate the detention and beating of Afghan journalist Reza Shahir, return his equipment, and cease harassing journalists for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.
On Tuesday, April 19, armed Taliban members stopped Shahir, a reporter for the independent TV station Rahe Farda, while he was covering a suicide attack at a school in western Kabul, and proceeded to beat and detain him, according to news reports and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.
Shahir told CPJ that he reached the scene of the explosion before authorities, and when Taliban forces arrived at the scene, two members confiscated his camera and cellphone, punched him in the head and arms, beat him on the feet with their guns, and blindfolded him and took him away from the attack site.
They held Shahir for about three hours and accused him of being connected to the attack, and then released him without charge. After his release, Shahir asked Taliban officials at the Kabul police headquarters to return his equipment and said they refused, saying they would assess the content recorded at scene of the explosion.
“The Taliban must cease its routine arbitrary detention, abuse, and harassment of Afghan journalists,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “A lack of safety and growing unpredictability for journalists has become a sad trademark of Afghanistan under Taliban rule. If authorities want to show that they care about the media, they must investigate the recent harassment of journalist Reza Shahir, return his equipment, and hold those responsible to account.”
Shahir sustained light injuries to his feet during the beating, he told CPJ, adding that he did not know the location where he was held and questioned.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment sent via messaging app.