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Afghan media concerned over Senate’s amendments to media law

BBC Monitoring

Text of report by Afghan independent Tolo TV on 21 August

[Presenter] The majority of media bodies and media officials have expressed concerns over amendments to the law on mass media activities by the Senate.

The law was sent to the Senate after being approved by parliament almost three months ago.

The Senate's committee for religions and cultural affairs has made some amendments to the law which have worried media bodies.

[Correspondent] Even though a number of media workers and officials were invited to the Senate meeting to discuss the law on mass media activities, the meeting was postponed until tomorrow.

Afghan journalists say that if the law on mass media activities is approved with the new Senate amendments, reporters would not be able to report on events freely.

The reporters want the Senate members to understand their responsibilities towards the people and to try to lift the limitations, so that the media can reflect the facts.

[Danish Karokhel, head, Pazhwok News Agency, in! Pashto] All the prohibited points mentioned in article No 45 of the law on mass media activities have once again been confirmed here, and this could present journalists and media workers with problems. We hope the senators reduce the prohibited items from eight to four, as it was in the past, and offer a proper definition of the prohibited items.

[Sediqollah Tawhidi, head, Media Watch] With great regret, I am extremely concerned about the law on mass media activities today. I can see that the efforts made by Afghan civil society, the media and journalistic agencies, NGOs and intellectuals to develop a very good law on media activities are once again facing a challenge.

[Correspondent] A member of the Senate committee for regional and cultural affairs says they will approve the law in line with the constitution and recommendations of journalists.

[Khwaja Mahmud Rashed, member, Senate committee for cultural and religious affairs] The amendments brought to t! he law on media activities by the parliament and by the Senate are not final. We were planning to discuss the media law at the general Senate meeting today, but, unfortunately, a number of members of our committee were not present due to some problems. They were not here to defend the amendments they have brought and give their comments.

[Correspondent] In his speeches abroad, Hamed Karzai always presents freedom of speech and the freedom of the media as one of the big achievements of the government of Afghanistan.

Source: Tolo TV, Kabul, in Dari 1330 gmt 21 Aug 07



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