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Govt tightens grip on access to information: NAI

Govt tightens grip on access to information: NAI

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Mar 12, 2018 - 19:18

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Free media advocacy group, NAI, on Monday accused the government of tightening its grip on access to information, saying media people faced hardships in collecting details.

Abdul Mujib Khilwatgar, head of Nai, told a press conference in Kabul that the government was not providing satisfactory information to journalists in violation of the law on access to information.

“Government spokespersons only respond in yes and no to questions from journalists and provide no satisfactory answers,” he said.

He said government spokespersons did not respond to journalists’ telephone calls and those receiving calls on their behalf had been tutored.

Khilwatgar accused the government of dealing with local media indifferently, saying government departments behaved with foreign media differently.

“This discrimination between local and foreign media is against the media law and the law on access to information.”

Denying media and journalists access to information meant depriving people from the same and that was why people had lost faith in the regime, Khilwatgar added.

“Some government offices demand official letters from journalists to allow them access to information. For example, the Ministry of Womeninfo-icon’s Affairs and the Ministry of Transport as well as hospitals and schools ask journalists for an official letter,” he said.

He also said the government was not allowing journalists to go with military convoys to remote areas of the country. “This causes people to remain unaware about the real situation.”

On the other hand, Khilwatgar expressed concern about government’s influence in some media outlets and said some media sources prepared their reports and news that favored the government.

The government should help resolve these problems and let journalists have access to information without any restrictions, he said.

However, Dawa Khan Minapal, deputy spokesman to the president, said that the government was committed to implementing the law on access to information.

About NAI concerns, he said: “The access to information law has recently been amended to relax access to information, but the media should also cooperate with the government in enforcing this law.”

mds/ma

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