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Senate panel’s summons for Danish slammed as illegal

Senate panel’s summons for Danish slammed as illegal

Dec 14, 2019 - 16:40

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Media support organisations have slammed the summoning of the Pajhwok Afghan News director by the Senate’s Public Welfare Commission as a violation of the law.

Qutbuddin Kohi, the Pajhwok correspondent based in Faryab province, wrote on his Facebook page on December 4 the following Hadithinfo-icon: "(The performance of) 'Umra is expiation for the sins committed (between it and the previous one). And the reward of the Hajjinfo-icon accepted by Allah is nothing except Paradise."

Kohi went on to say: “But some go to Umrah every year and complete seven tawafs (walking in circles around Kaaba), take pictures and behave like they are reconciled to Allah and will no longer do bad deeds. However, when they return, they forget all their commitments.”

Following Kohi’s post, a public representative from Faryab and head of the Senate panel, summoned the director of Pajhwok Afghan News through a letter for offering an explanation to the commission.

The letter from Meshrano Jirgainfo-icon, written by the Ministry of Culture and Information, reads: “The director of Pajhwok Afghan News is invited to the meeting of the Welfare Commission of Meshrajo Jirgainfo-icon at 10am on December 11.”

It said: “According to the decision of the commission, the Senate Secretariat has invited [Danish Karokhel, director of Pajhwok Afghan News] to offer an explanation in response to complaints about the abuse of authority and mocking of public figures by Kohi.”

Pajhwok fully understood the summons for its director from the commission is against the law and the mechanism for dealing with complaints against journalists and that Kohi has not insulted any official or institution.

Even then, Pajhwok sent its reporter, Khwaja Basir Fitri to attend the commission meeting and answer questions from the panel members.

According to the agenda of the commission received by Pajhwok, the commission organised the meeting exclusively on this issue.

Karokhel regretted a media outlet had been summoned to the Meshrano Jirga for the publication of a Hadith on the personal account of a reporter with the news agency.

He viewed the commission’s approach as an attempt at undermining the freedom of expression in the country. “I’m sorry to say there are many important issues facing our country today but our legislators discuss and include the Facebook post in the agenda of the commission.

“I wonder why the Senate’s Public Welfare Commission holds a special meeting on a post that neither belongs to Pajhwok nor insults anyone.”

Gul Mohammad Rasouli, head of the Public Welfare Commission in Mesharano Jirga, said that Kohi has mocked Faryab officials using Pajhwok public fame.

He asked Pajhwok Afghan News to put pressure on Kohi not to publish Pajhwok stories in his personal facebook page and refrain from the publication of harmful materials in which high ranking officials are disgraced.

When asked that how Kohi insulted any high ranking official at time when he did not name anyone, Rasouli said: “Me and some of local officials in Faryab government have offered Umra and everyone knows that Kohi’s facebook post refers to whom.”

When asked that what is the link of Kohis’ personal comment with Pajhwok or the head of Pajhwok Afghan News, he said that Kohi earned fame in Faryab by the name of Pajhwok and he is know there as Pajhwok reporter. He often published Pajhwok’s news in his facebook page and people believe that some of his personal posts are also originated from Pajhwok.

Khawaja Basir Fitri, Pajhwok reporter told the Commission: “Pajhwok administration is responsible for information that publishes on its website or social media accounts.”

He added Pajhwok could not press its reporter to refrain from expressing his/her views in personal social media account because this is against the principle of freedom of expression and accepted norms.

Fitri said the Mesharano Jirga Commission could register its complain in the Media Complaint Commission against Kohi.

Clause five of the presidential decree No. 2193 in 2015 says: “In principle, addressing media violations and resolving legal disputes arising directly from the activities of the media and their staff is solely the competence of the Media Complaints and Appeals Commission and Ministry of Information and Culture Affairs. The Attorney General's Office may pursue such cases if it is formally referred to the Office of the Prosecutor General by the said Commission; otherwise, the Prosecutor's Office should refrain from investigating media violations incidents even if referred by the government institutions or they are the victims of such violations.”

The summoning of Pajhwok Afghan News head by the Mesharano Jirga Commission irked media support organizations.

Fahim Dashti, head of the Afghanistaninfo-icon National Journalists Union, said they received a formal complaint from Qutbuddin Kohi in this regard which is being followed strictly.

In Kohi’s facebook post a particular person has not been insulted, adding that if Kohi named anyone in his facebook post it was his personal view on his personal facebook page and Pajhwok Afghan New is not responsible for that.

“I am really disappointed that lawmaker violated the law. Even if insult has taken place there is legal body and mechanism and the Media Complaints Hearing Commission address such cases,” he said.

Mujib Khilwatgar, head of Media Support Organisation (NAI) said that the Mesharano Jirga and the Ministry of Parlaimentry Affairs acted against the law in this case and demanded these institutions to apologize to the media outlets and people and avoids such incidents in the future.

He accused head of the Mesharano Jirga Public Welfare Commission over misuse of authority and said in line with article 34 of the constitutions nobody possessed the right to stop public from sharing their views.

Article 34 of the constitutions says: “Freedom of expression shall be inviolable. Every Afghan shall have the right to express thoughts through speech, writing, illustrations as well as other means in accordance with provisions of this constitution. Every Afghan shall have the right, according to provisions of law, to print and publish on subjects without prior submission to state authorities. Directives related to the press, radio and television as well as publications and other mass media shall be regulated by law.”




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