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AIJA seeks 3-month debate on draft media law

AIJA seeks 3-month debate on draft media law

May 17, 2012 - 20:45

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): The Afghanistaninfo-icon Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) on Thursday sought three months’ time for a nationwide debate on a draft media law.

The draft law was published last week in a government-run newspaper, with the Ministry of Information and Culture setting a 10-day deadline for opinion on it.

But the association said that 10 days’ time was not enough for scrutising the law and commenting thereon. At least three months were needed to complete the process, it added.

The ministry should seek indevidual suggestions and conduct countrywide group discussions on the subject to ensure that the proposed law was free of shortcommings, a statement from AIJA  said.

It claimed the draft law contained no guarantee of protecting journalists’ rights, which should be a basic goal of any measure like this. For instance, the draft is silent on action against a media outlet that terminates one or more employees in violation of their contracts.

Similarly, it proposes no punitive measures against the individuals, groups or organisations that beat, insult or imprison journalists.

Calling access to information key to press freedom, the draft law asks government and NGO officials to share the requisite details with media outlets.

AJA faulted the draft law that calls the Radio and Television of Afghanistan (RTA) and Bakhtar News Agency (BAS) as independent organisations. Practically, both entities are supervised by a media high council, headed by the information minister.

The journalists also questioned the lack of clarity on funding for private media news organisations and ambiguity on the programmes that are in conflict with the Afghan culture. 

In order to distinguish themselves from government-controlled organisations, the statement suggested, privately-owned media outlets should identify their funding sources.


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