Media freedom, access to information essential for building trust, say Kandahar media institutions
KANDAHAR – Media freedom and the flow of accurate information are essential to build trust between government, media and citizens, according to participants in radio programmes and series of discussions held throughout 2017 and supported by the Kandahar regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in Kandahar and Helmand.
Following a series of UN-backed events last year, journalists’ associations in southern Afghanistan including the Kandahar Journalist’s Center (KJC) and the Kandahar Press Club (KPC) are leading public initiatives to discuss mechanisms for improving media freedom, access to information and the safety of journalists in the country’s restive southern provinces.
Ahmad Lodin, director of KJC, says that the safety of journalists and difficulties in accessing information, top the challenges faced by the media in the south. “Requests for information from public authorities are difficult and sometimes dangerous undertakings” he said and noted that “many citizens and government officials in the south are either not aware of the access to information law or aren’t adhering to its precepts.”
In 2017, UNAMA worked with media and journalists’ organizations across Afghanistan to build support for Afghan-led peace and reconciliation efforts. In Kandahar, a series of discussions were organized with journalists including regional journalists’ forum. Media partners Zma Radio in Kandahar and Bost Radio in Helmand produced more than 15 radio features to raise awareness on media freedom, protection of journalists and access to information.
Head of the Kandahar Press Club, Javed Ahmad Tanvir, has called for more public discussions and forums to engage and build public knowledge on media freedoms and Afghanistan Access to Information Law which guarantees every citizen the right to access public information from government institutions.
UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.
UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.