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The Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) published a report analyzing the recent attacks against media workers based in Afghanistan. The document revealed 41 incidents in the past six months, including threats, beating, kidnapping and two deaths.

According to the Afghan non-governmental organization Nai Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan, the year of 2012 had 23 attacks to media workers, including one death. In only six months, 2013 has already showed a 78 percent increase of violence against journalists when compared to last year.

As 2013 is a critical year for the future of Afghanistan, AJSC reveals in its report: “It marks the completion of security transition from NATO to Afghan security forces. Moreover, preparations for political transition of 2014 and economic transition takes place this year. This will, by a large extent, determine how Afghanistan navigates its way through a host of heavy challenges into stability.”

The report predicts an increase of violence against journalists in the upcoming months. One of the reasons cited is the upcoming presidential election in 2014 with the possibility of a stricter control of the information.

The document gives other reasons for an even larger violence growth: “With the reduction of the presence of the international community and their weakened commitment toward safeguarding the values of freedom of expression, intimidators will find more space and courage to threaten media workers and pressure media outlets for the purpose of advancing their interests,” affirms AJSC in the report.

Another point highlighted was the threats that female journalists face. Sexual harassments in the workplace and cultural constrains are some of the obstacles that restrict their work in the office and on the field.

Not everything is bad news. Important measures were created in the past six months in order to protect journalists and create better working conditions for the media. One example is the inauguration of the Afghanistan Journalists’ Federation in January of 2013. According to AJSC’s report, the federation “can be considered a major achievement in the history of media in Afghanistan” and “has created a new atmosphere and momentum to enhance integration of media support organizations and groups and create a bulwark against escalation of various types of pressure on media and journalists”

The Committee to Protect Journalists accounts 24 journalists killed in Afghanistan since 1992 due to work related issues. The two deaths counted by the AJSC report this year were not included because the motives behind the deaths are still uncertain.

AJSC was founded in 2010 after a recommendation at the Kabul Conference on Freedom of Expression, held by International Media Support in 2009.

By Julia Lugon

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