Freedom of Expression

Reform initiatives of the past 14 years have ignored informal structures of decision-making and rural communities. This has led to cities’ artificial expansion, creating a socio-politico-economic divide between urban and rural areas. As a result, the civic presence of government, and thus its institutional footprint is not sufficiently visible in Afghan villages, which hold a grudge against the cities, something into which media contributes by its unrealistic reporting of resources spent in Afghanistan. Rural communities’ lack of access to accurate information has led to a sense of rural frustration in relation to urban areas, reflected in part in the ongoing insurgency. This divide is seriously affecting people’s faith in formal institutions of governance and legal frameworks, including the Constitution that offers the highest level of legal protection to citizens’ fundamental rights, including the value of freedom of expression.

Article 34 of the Afghan Constitution renders freedom of expression -through speech, writing and illustration disseminated in person, in print or through electronic media- an inviolable right of all Afghan citizens. Article 35 protects the right to form associations and political parties and Article 36 confirms the right to hold demonstrations, both facilitating practical manifestations of citizens’ freedom of expression. Law on Mass Media, Associations Law, Political Parties law and Electoral Law build upon this Constitutional spirit and make the institutional foundations that govern the realization of freedom of expression, also protected by the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Afghanistan is committed as given in Article 7 of the Constitution.

The Afghan context is characterized by transition, reform, development and yet ongoing conflict. Government machinery is inherently unaccountable, and has a tendency to silent opposition, directly or indirectly. With increasing focus on ensuring stability, government’s desire to control will increase, leading to reduced freedom of expression. Increased instances of self-censorship exhibited by Afghan journalists demonstrate a pattern that validates the truth of this assumption. Therefore, Government’s attempt at bringing stability will, among others, affect peoples’ capacity to express, oppose and expose. To ensure sustained and balanced development of government and civil society, freedom of expression must be protected, promoted and strengthened throughout Afghanistan, as one of the basic prerequisites of development.  Furthermore, the value of freedom of expression guarantees social stability by contributing to political and intellectual rationality, reducing social grudges by establishing in-built social outlet mechanisms, and facilitating constructive social discourses, leading to reduced social nervousness, sensitivities and complexes.

Being cognizant of the above, and with the goal of contributing to social and institutional streamlining of the uninfringeable value of freedom of expression, Duran works towards bridging the gap between our institutional frameworks and their on the ground presence and effectiveness, through several socially empowering long-term advocacy, network building and mobilization efforts that strengthens people’s understanding of the value of freedom of expression, and their capacity to exercise it as a Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right.

Areas of Focus

Why Duran?

Duran is a research firm with aspiration to serve. Duran aims to be a platform with the capacity to offer direction and centrality, exercise leadership and bridge dialogues within Afghanistan, thereby contributing to the shaping of the Afghan narrative. We are rooted in the context in which we operate. We aim at sustaining this space for […]

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Duran is a research, analysis, program assessment and advocacy firm based in Kabul. Duran works in partnership with national, regional and international organizations. Duran's mission is to help integrate information and learning exercises, provide alternative analytical frames and orient policy analysis processes.

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