Afghan parliament opposes amendments to media law

The Afghan Parliament has opposed the amendments to a mass media law proposed by the government that activists say will restrict the freedom of press in the country.

The law that was enacted in 2006 has 54 articles and now the government has proposed amendments to at least 13, something that has been harshly criticized by 20 prominent Afghan media outlets and journalists’ rights organizations, TOLO News reported.

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.

On Sunday, the Parliament’s deputy headt, Mohammad Mirza Katawazai, said the legislative commission of the Wolesi Jirga or the House of Representatives is investigating the proposed draft and that efforts to impose restrictions on freedom of speech and freedom of media amid the peace negotiations “is concerning and will not be accepted”.

He said that based on their initial findings, possible reviews of the law were aimed at imposing limitations on freedom of speech.

“Our only achievement in the last two decades is our media and we will not accept any limitations on the activities of the media,” TOLO News quoted Katawazai as saying.

An official of the Ministry of Information and Culture said discussions have started with media leaders on the review of the law.