President Ghani has ordered the recall of the amended draft of the mass media law from the parliament until the draft is further discussed with the media under the leadership of the Second VP Sarwar Danesh, the Presidential Palace said in a statement on Monday.
Ghani said in a cabinet meeting that the Afghan government has always been committed to supporting the freedom of speech and enhancing the media activities and that “fortunately, we have no one in custody on charges of violating freedom of speech.”
The amended draft of the mass media law was sent to parliament last week, which raised concerns among the media community and groups supporting the media.
The mass media law that was enacted in 2006 has 54 articles and now the government has proposed amendments to at least 13 articles of the law, something that has been harshly criticized by 20 prominent Afghan media outlets and journalists’ rights organizations.
Critics say the amendments would allow censorship before and after publication, and based on the proposed amendments, “unnecessary” and “vast” authority would be granted to the government’s monitoring organizations. Also some advantages and rights of media and journalists would be excluded and the independence of the National TV might be compromised – among other restrictions and amendments highlighted by journalists’ rights organizations.
Some critics fear that any limitations on media activities will endanger the achievements of the last two decades in Afghanistan that have been achieved after the killing of thousands of Afghan and foreign forces.
“If this sector is affected, Afghanistan will lose its achievements of the last 20 years. I hope that we can preserve these achievements,” said Aziz Rafiee, head of the civil society association of Afghanistan.