BY INSI

February update: no story is bigger than staying alive

Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to be a journalist.

In February we spoke with journalist Abdullah Azada Khenjani, the chief editor of 1TV in Kabul, who is on a Taliban hit list. He says the group is systematically targeting journalists, killing more than 50 in the last 15 years.

Last year 12 media workers died, eight from the TOLO television station as they drove home from work in a minibus.

Khenjani is forced to take extraordinary precautions to stay safe - avoiding his mobile phone and the internet, varying his routes home and to work and above all trusting practically no one.

"80 percent of the security measures could be taken by the journalists themselves, instead of relying on bodyguards, risk management companies, security companies, even government," said Khenjani.

"Being a journalist in a country like Afghanistan is more than just reporting on something. You are a soldier of democracy and there are threats against you."

INSI joins CoE journalists safety platform

INSI is delighted to have last month joined a Council of Europe online platform to monitor attacks against journalists including harassment, censorship and physical violence. Members submit alerts to the platform which are then brought to the attention of the Council of Europe and its member states.

"INSI has been dedicated to journalists safety since it began in 2003, but something that we have always battled with is the issue of impunity. We hope that this online cataloguing of attacks will force governments to take action and investigate each individual violation of a journalist's rights," said INSI's assistant director Anna Bevan.

INSI signed an agreement to join the platform alongside the Rory Peck Trust, a London-based NGO that supports freelance journalists.

“Rory Peck Trust and the International News Safety Institute are important additions to the Council of Europe's platform, due to the specific focus of their work on freelance journalism and the safety and security of journalists, in conflict and war zones," said the Council of Europe's Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.

"For us, partnership with media organisations, through the platform, is essential. It allows us to have a better picture of media freedom in member states and to respond faster and in a systemic manner to developments.”

Partner organisations have issued 259 alerts in 34 member states since the platform was launched in April 2015 - 66 concerned physical attacks and 59 referred to the detention and imprisonment of journalists.

AFP image