Afghanistan | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Following the fall of the repressive Taliban regime in late 2001, conditions for Afghanistan's media improved markedly. A new press law adopted in February 2002 guaranteed the right to press freedom, but also contained a number of broadly worded restrictions on licensing, foreign ownership, and insult laws that could be subject to abuse. Authorities have granted more than 100 licenses to independent publications, although some regional warlords have refused to allow independent media outlets to operate in the areas under their control. In January, the independent publication Kabul Weekly started publishing after a suspension of five years. However, journalists in Kabul reported several instances of threats and harassment at the hands of authorities, according to the London-based Index on Censorship. Many avoid writing about sensitive issues such as Islam, national unity, or crimes committed by the warlords. Both Afghan and foreign reporters were also subjected to intimidation and physical attacks from regional warlords and their security services, the U.S. armed forces, or unidentified assailants. Television broadcasts were restored in November 2001 after a total ban under the Taliban. However, in August 2002, officials in Kabul banned the airing of Indian films on TV and ruled that radio stations must not broadcast women singing, and in December the Supreme Court banned cable television stations in the city of Jalalabad. The state owns a number of newspapers and almost all of the electronic news media.