News - Afghanistan
Written by TOLOnews.com
Wednesday, 04 July 2012 15:52
Afghanistan's Ministry of Information and Culture said that the time period for approving the latest draft of a new media law was extended for two weeks to allow for more feedback, contrary to earlier reports that it had been rejected.
Speaking on the phone from US late Tuesday night, the Minister of Information and Culture Sayed Makhdoom Raheen said that the "draft will be reviewed after [further] public comment", adding that this would happen in two weeks.
Earlier Tuesday evening, the Deputy Information Minister Din Mohammad Mubariz Rashidi had said that the draft was rejected, following backlash from civil rights and media groups.
Most vocal among the opposing groups was Human Rights Watch (HRW) which lobbied the Afghan government to withdraw the bill during the initial feedback process.
HRW said the new laws would limit the gains made to free speech since the 2001 US-led invasion brought down the Taliban.
"Press freedom has been one of Afghanistan's most important success stories since 2001," HRW Asia director Brad Adams said in a statement on Monday.
"The Afghan government should be acting to solidify media gains, not seeking to placate forces hostile to free expression," he said.
The HRW statement said that provisions in the bill, which would replace a 2009 media law, undermine free expression and increase government control.
It acknowledged that the 2009 media law could be improved, including by revising overly broad and vague limits on speech, particularly relating to religion, and giving greater independence to government-sponsored media.
The proposed law, however, leaves all of these restrictions in place while creating a new set of barriers to free speech, and should be withdrawn, it said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 July 2012 17:19