Some journalists on Monday blasted the Supreme Court of Afghanistan (Stera Mahkama) for not providing enough information, as officials of the court led their first news conference in the current year 1398 (which started in March 2019).
Journalists said that the officials did not provide convincing answers to their requests for information.
“We wanted to ask questions about a ministers’ final trial, which is not finished yet. The session did not provide answers to our questions,” said Diana Samadi, a journalist.
Aslam Behnoosh, another journalist, said the same: “They evaded our questions. They did not provide enough information about some cases.”
Some members of the Wolesi Jirga, or lower house of Afghanistan, said that “political pressures, corruption and lack of transparency” caused the court to avoid sharing information.
“Reforms have taken place, but it is not enough. Sometimes corruption and relationships dominate instead of justice,” said Mohamad Sadiq Qadiri, head of the complaints commission of the Wolesi Jirga.
Meanwhile, Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) also blamed the court.
“It will have bad effects. The sovereignty of the law is under question. People are not glad,” said Sayed Akram Afzali, head of the IWA.
“When transparency is not available, without any doubt justice is questionable,” said Subhan Uddin Masbah, deputy head of a lawyer association.
However, the court said that they have not assessed some cases because of “lack of evidence,” but they vowed they would facilitate a process to provide more access to information.
“We are cooperating with you and nothing will be hidden from you,” said Jawid Rashidi, acting head of the administrative board of the Supreme Court.
In early February, thirty news agencies in Afghanistan, including TOLOnews, signed a strongly-worded statement accusing the Afghan government of a “double standard” in its dealings with the nation’s media. On the one hand, the statement says, the government touts its commitment to supporting a free press, while on the other it “severely restricts” media access to information about its security forces, financial activity, and legal system.
The statement notes that despite being “one of the deadliest places to be a journalist,” Afghanistan media is still the “freest in the region,” but says that the “carelessness of the government,” will endanger this “hard-won achievement.”
The “worst” offenders named by the statement were the Supreme Court, the Attorney General’s Office, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Office of the President and its procurement unit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Public Health.