Female presenters work in a newsroom while covering their faces in Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 22, 2022. (Reuters/Ali Khara)

Two years into Taliban rule, media repression worsens in Afghanistan

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When the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan in 2021, they promised to protect press freedom and women’s rights—a key facet of their efforts to paint a picture of moderation compared to their oppressive rule in the late 1990s.

Two years later, the Taliban have not only reneged on that pledge, but intensified their crackdown on what was once a vibrant media landscape.

In the past week alone, CPJ has documented how Taliban authorities detained two journalists and banned women’s voices from broadcasts in one province, and how intelligence agents held three journalists in custody on claims they reported for exiled media outlets.

As the Taliban seek to end Afghanistan’s international isolation, the absence of reliable and trustworthy news continues to silo the country from the rest of the world.

“The grim anniversary of the fall of Kabul is a reminder that the international community can and must pressure the Taliban to respect the wishes of the Afghan people and allow the country to return to a democratic path, including allowing a free press,” wrote CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Beh Lih Yi in an op-ed for Nikkei Asia.

Global press freedom updates

  • Guatemalan journalists Edin Alonso and Hugo Gutiérrez shot and killed
  • Haitian radio commentator Brown Larose shot in Port-au-Prince
  • Two Bangladeshi journalists investigated under Digital Security Act
  • Exiled Russian journalists Elena Kostyuchenko and Irina Babloyan allegedly poisoned
  • Tajikistan court rejects journalist Khurshed Fozilov’s appeal of seven-year sentence
  • Benin and Burkina Faso suspend media outlets over coverage of Niger coup
  • Masked men threaten to kidnap journalist Sahiana Maman Hassan in Niger
  • New Jordanian cybercrime law criminalizes “fake news” online
  • Senegalese journalist Abdou Khadre Sakho detained on false news allegations
  • Iranian journalist Ali Moslehi detained, transferred to Kashan Central Prison


'Seized...but not silenced': Staff of the Marion County Record worked through the night to publish their newspaper after police confiscated their equipment. (Photo: Katherine Jacobsen)
‘Seized…but not silenced’: Staff of the Marion County Record worked through the night to publish their newspaper after police confiscated their equipment. (Photo: Katherine Jacobsen)

A police raid on the Marion County Record, a small-town newspaper in the U.S. state of Kansas, has sent shockwaves through the local community and raised national alarm among journalists, press freedom groups, and news organizations due to its potential to undermine press freedom in the United States.

During a search of the newsroom, Kansas police seized reporters’ personal cellphones, decades of reporting material, and other equipment the paper said was outside the scope of the search warrant prompting the raid, which itself was based on complaints publisher Eric Meyer said were untrue. Police also searched Meyer’s home and went through his personal bank statements. Joan Meyer, Meyer’s 98-year-old mother who co-owned the publication, collapsed and died Saturday afternoon following the searches.

Katherine Jacobsen, CPJ’s U.S. and Canada program coordinator, is currently in Marion in solidarity with the newspaper. She told KAKE, a television station in Wichita, Kansas, “When local journalists are under attack in this way, when state and federal laws protecting journalists are ignored, it’s of great concern to us and it’s really important to be on the ground and show our support.”

On Wednesday, the warrant prompting the search of the outlet’s office was withdrawn, and seized equipment was returned to the newspaper.

Read more about the context and significance of the raid.

What we are reading

So far in 2023…

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