IFJ Welcomes Release of Journalist in Afghanistan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA) in welcoming the release of Emroze television producer and journalist Ahmad Fahim Kohdamani.

According to the AIJA, Kohdamani was released from detention yesterday after being held for 27 days. The official explanation for his arrest by the Kabul Police Department reportedly under orders from Office of the Attorney General is unknown, but Kohdamani believes he was targeted for broadcasting controversial music and an interview program called Bia We Bebin (Come and See) involving discussions with religious theorists, the AIJA reports.

“It is totally unacceptable to keep a journalist under the detention for 27 days, without having any tangible reason,” said AIJA President Rahimullah Samander.

The IFJ is concerned by reports that Kohdamani was held in small cell in poor conditions and was put under serious psychological pressure.

“The release of Kohdamani is a positive action by the Afghan authorities in recognising the importance of media freedom and the professional responsibility of all journalists and media workers to report and broadcast diverse information from a range of sources,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

“However, editorial freedom and independence in Afghanistan continue to be a source of tension between political and religious figures, and individual journalists are often the victim of game-playing among these parties.”

Afghanistan’s national elections are due to be held in mid-August 2009.

“As now we are very close to the upcoming election, consequently we are very concerned about the current situation. This type of ill-treatment and approach to journalists may impair the media coverage during the next election in the country,” Samander said.

The IFJ joins the AIJA in calling on all groups and political entities in Afghanistan to respect and uphold the public’s right to press freedom and freedom of expression, which are guaranteed under Afghanistan’s Constitution and Media Law, and to ensure that such detentions are not repeated.

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