Accountability systems

In general, accountability is weak in Afghanistan in every aspect of society. In the media sector one of the main issues is actually how the sector is accountable or whether the sector is accountable at all.

Almost all media outlets have their own code of conduct which is designed based on their own interests. It is not possible to apply one for the other. In 2016, after almost a decade of efforts, the Afghan media sector finalised its first ever code of ethics. The representatives of media outlets including TVs, radios, papers, news agencies and some media-supporting organisations, have agreed and signed the final version, but still the code is not being applied.

The government uses different approaches to maintain various points of contact at the media outlets. No political party dares to bring forward the issue of the government breaking the law. The Federation of Afghanistan’s Media Organisations and Journalists (FAMOJ) is also not in the position to make the sector accountable, as it lacks the power even to ask for media accountability.

In theory, both the Afghanistan media code of conducts and the federation should be responsible to keep the media sector accountable, but neither can, at least at this stage. For example, during counter terrorism operations in Afghanistan, in the case of Afghan soldiers being killed, the Federation and even the public requires the media to refer to those who have been killed as “Martyrs”, but except for the governmental media, none of the private media calls them Martyrs. They use the word “killed”, as they also do for insurgencies that are killed during the operations. Access to Information and Journalist Safety regulations are also not usually enforced and violations against journalists are not being brought to prosecution.