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Afghan media sector development stressed

Afghan media sector development stressed

Dec 02, 2011 - 14:18

BONN(PANinfo-icon): German and Afghan journalists' organisations have called for delegates of the 2nd Bonn Conference, scheduled for Dec. 5, to pay proper heed to the development ofAfghanistan's nascent media sector.

The call came at a two-day seminar organised by VENRO, an umbrella organisation of German NGOs and its member bodies working inAfghanistan. The bilateral seminar for journalists from the two countries concluded inBonnlate on Thursday.

Aimed to identify the problems that independent Afghan media is facing today, the initiative comes days ahead of the Bonn Conference -- a crucial event where the course of transition and the peace process will be further determined.

Five Afghan media managers and journalists and 10 of their German counterparts participated in the meeting, which took stock of the current media situation inAfghanistan.

The participants believed 10 years after the Petersburg Conference, the emergence and development of independent Afghan media was a success story. However, they felt major achievements were coming under pressure, with parties to the conflict constantly restricting journalists' access to information.

Womeninfo-icon continued to face restrictions and to be harassed as female media actors, the speakers noted, saying independent media continued to suffer from imbalanced and short-term investment of the international community.

"None of the past international development pacts or conferences had a clear focus and proper mechanisms in support of the media sector. Media ownership in the hands of doubtful powerbrokers and warlords are an obstacle on the way to full freedom of speech and media," VENRO said.

It added the ongoing conflict exposed Afghan journalists to life-threatening conditions, with often no protection for their physical safety. Intimidation, self-censorship and lack of professional security were cited as sources of grave concern.

In a paper of recommendations, the participants said all political and social acquisitions of the past 10 years, including the freedom of speech, human rights and women's political participation, were no-negotiable. 

They also stressed the urgent need to revise the existing media law, including a definition of the public media sector in order to strengthen those independent outlets that have proven essential over the past decade for Afghan civil societyinfo-icon.

A trust fund be set up to support the media sector that would be administrated by a transparent and independent body, the attendees suggested, saying an Afghan-managed journalism institute, replacing short-term trainings by academic curriculum, be established.

Shahir Zahin, president of Killid Media Group, Danish Karokhel, director and editor-in-chief of Pajhwok Afghan News, Humaira Habib, director and editor-in-chief of Radio Sahar,Herat, Ghousuddin Frotan, director of the Kandahar-based Hindara Media and Youth Development Organisation, and Sayed Enaiatullah Najafizada of the Tarawesh Weekly attended the seminar.

The Afghan government expects a renewal of strong long-term cooperation pledges from the international community at the conference, to be attended by more than 90 countries.

Important decisions on the country's future direction are expected at the Afghan-led event. The ongoing project of security transition, greater regional cooperation and reconciliation with militants are high on the agenda.

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