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 The right to know is still a far cry in Afghanistan: Nai

By Akhtar M.Nikzad-KABUL: For the first time ever, Nai- Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan marked the International Right to Know Day. The organization expressed its deep concerns that people in Afghanistan are still deprived of their right of access to information.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Mujib Khilwatgar Chief Executive Officer of Nai said that it has been nearly one year that the government has approved the access to information law, but it is yet to pave the ground for its implementation.

He added that media is faced with more challenges since formation of the National Unity government. It termed the inattention of the government as one of the main reasons behind the growing challenges before freedom of expression.

“Hitherto, media have no access to information, particularly about security incidents. These restrictions have also led to violence against reporters,” he said.

Recently, the government has established a joint commission for implementation of the access to information law. However, Nai claimed that the measures taken so far are not enough.

It is pertinent to mention that media have no access to information about contracts of development project. Khilwatgar urged the government to pave the ground for implementation of the law.

In the meantime, reporters said that they confront numerous challenges during work.

Massoud Ansar, a local reporter, said that reporting has become a dangerous business in Afghanistan and the government is yet to lend its support to journalists. “The government’s failure to implement the access to information law has disrupted activities of media. Reporters cannot prepare investigative reports about corruption in state departments,” he added.

He said that due to lack of access to information in most cases reporters cannot provide news regarding realties on the ground, thus people remain in darkness.

Nai asked the Afghan National Security Forces and the insurgents to prevent attacks against journalists.

The 28th September is international ‘Right to Know Day’ – an event first celebrated by access to information advocates from around the globe in 2002. This annual occasion aims to raise awareness of every individual’s right of access to government-held information: the right to know how elected officials are exercising power and how tax payers’ money is being spent. The public’s right to know is the most effective and inexpensive way to stop corruption and waste, and enhance efficiency and good governance.

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