NAI – Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan – on Sunday blasted the governors of Bamiyan and Daikundi provinces for reportedly imposing restrictions on local officials in terms of talking to the media.
According to NAI, local officials in the two provinces are banned from speaking to the media unless they have permission from their respective governors.
NAI accused the two governors of violating the constitution and the Access to Information Act.
“Unfortunately in Daikundi, governor Masooma Muradi in letter to subsidiary bodies in the province has asked them not to speak to the media without going through the governor’s office or the governor herself. And also Bamiyan governor has issued the same order which says that the governor’s office is not allowed to speak to journalists without permission,” head of NAI Sediqullah Tawhidi said.
When asked to comment, the Ministry of Information and Culture (MoIC) said it had no knowledge of this move but said the governors could have issued the orders so as to ensure correct information is released to the public.
“Sometimes the government officials do not have authentic and credible information, perhaps, the officials want them to be in touch with the provincial government in order to make sure information released is correct,” Hakimi said.
Reacting to NAI claims, officials in both provinces have dismissed the report and termed it baseless.
“We strongly reject the reports which were published in media about restrictions and avoiding of sharing of information with media. We have asked our employees not to give out information this is not approved as this can create problems. Our local institutions are free to share their achievements with media. We strongly believe in freedom of speech, freedom of press, domestic and international media and appreciate their contributions for informing the people,” a spokesman for Bamiyan’s governor said.
According to the Daikundi governor, the order has been misinterpreted in the media. She said the provincial government strongly rejects censorship and restrictions on media.
However, NAI argues that the information which is provided by local governments is filtered and there is no need to coordinate it with the governors.
Freedom of expression is considered one of the major achievements made by the newly democratic system in Afghanistan after the downfall of the Taliban regime in 2001.