Afghanistan Leans Away From Censorship

The Afghan government has stepped away from a total ban on the broadcasting of “disturbing images” that was implemented earlier this month. The move had set off howls among media and rights groups.

The initial censorship law used the decades-old excuse that such images would embolden the enemy. Many critics say that images of security operations would point up the shortcomings of government forces in dealing with insurgent attacks. –JCL


Afghanistan rowed back on Saturday from a total ban on media broadcasts of “disturbing” images from insurgent attacks or live pictures of security operations.

The new rules for media were agreed over the past week after an outcry over restrictions imposed on March 1 by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) spy agency that threatened to arrest journalists who film attacks.

The NDS had imposed the ban on international as well as local media, saying the images emboldened the militants and allowed them to gain tactical information. The move outraged Afghan media and rights groups who said the public would be deprived of vital security information.

The president’s chief spokesman, Waheed Omer, said the new guidelines, hammered out over three days of meetings between officials and media representatives, would guarantee freedom from censorship while addressing government concerns about safety.

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