Afghanistan Must Lift Media Restrictions, Says Amnesty International

For Immediate Release

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Afghanistan Must Lift Media Restrictions, Says Amnesty International

WASHINGTON - On the eve of the presidential
elections in Afghanistan, Amnesty International has called on the Afghan
government to reverse its ban on national and international media from
reporting on cases of violence and insecurity occurring during Thursday's
election.

The decision was made following a National
Security Council meeting on Tuesday and was announced by the Afghan Ministry
of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry said that journalists must avoid reporting
on any election-related violence or security incidents that may occur during
polling.

"The Afghan government should immediately
dissolve the restrictions on media reporting and allow the national and
international media to practice freedom of expression and the right of
the people to access information," Said Sam Zarifi, director of Amnesty
International's Asia Pacific Program.

In the run up to the election, Amnesty International
has documented intimidation of critical Afghan journalists by both the
Afghan government and Taliban insurgents.

Amnesty International believes that restricting
media reporting on election day will undermine the efforts of the international
community and the achievements of the Afghan government for maintaining
freedom of expression and access to information in Afghanistan.

"Freedom of expression lies at the heart
of the democratic process. The Afghan government is contradicting this
very principle in trying to restrict reporting by journalists at a time
when the Afghan people need more information, not less," said Zarifi.
 

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