The IPI global network is alarmed by the continuing deterioration of press freedom in Afghanistan, after two journalists went missing and another two were detained by the Taliban since May 24. We call for the immediate release of all detained journalists and urge the Taliban to uphold their promise to protect press freedom in Afghanistan.

According to reports, Jamaluddin Deldar, the head of Gardiz Voice Radio in the Afghan province of Paktia, went missing in Kabul on Tuesday, May 24. 

Deldar’s colleagues and family accused the Taliban of arresting the radio executive, but say they do not know why he was arrested, according to TOLOnews. A statement published on Gardiz Voice Radio’s Facebook page on May 30 says Deldar had been detained by the Taliban. His whereabouts are still unknown. 

A second journalist, Ali Akbar Khairkhwa, a photojournalist and reporter with the local Subhe Kabul newspaper, went missing in Kabul on May 24. Officials deny involvement and said they are unaware of the disappearance, according to reports. After being missing for several days, his family confirmed Khairkhwah was found and had returned home, but they did not provide further details about his disappearance.

In another incident on May 24, Taliban agents detained Mirza Hassani in Herat, a city in western Afghanistan. Hassani, the owner of Radio Aftab in Daikundii, was beaten and tortured and remains in Taliban custody, according to reports

On May 29, the Taliban detained Roman Karimi, a reporter for the local Salam Watandar radio station, and his driver for seven hours in Kabul, where they were covering a women’s protest. Karimi was questioned, beaten, and his phone and voice recorder were seized before he was released later that day, according to the radio station

“We call on the Taliban to immediately release all detained journalists in the country and to provide information on Jamaluddin Deldar’s whereabouts as well as the reason he is being detained”, IPI Director of Advocacy Amy Brouillette said. “These disappearances and arrests are further evidence of the disturbing erosion of press freedom in Afghanistan under Taliban rule.”

Independent journalists have come under growing pressure in Afghanistan since the Taliban seized power in August 2021. The Islamist group initially promised to uphold the freedom of the media, but restrictive rules and a crackdown on the country’s independent journalists, often in the form of violence, intimidation, and arbitrary arrests, have led to an alarming deterioration of press freedom in the country.