Summary: Within the framework of the 26th edition of the World Press Freedom Day celebrations, “Afghan Media For Democracy” created a platform for participant of different backgrounds in journalism, government, academia and NGOs to explore the status of journalism in Afghanistan.
The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan London hosted the first Afghanistan-UK Media Conference, themed ‘Afghan Media for Democracy’. The conference was held to recognise the vital role that Afghan journalists and media have played in the promotion of rule of law, sustainable development, transparency, and accountability post 9/11.
The conference – attended by over 20 men and women journalists from Afghanistan – served as an effective platform for discussion between Afghan media leaders and representatives from the international media industry, civil society, and academia. Keynote speeches were delivered by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and UN, and H.E Said T. Jawad, Ambassador of Afghanistan to the UK. Along with the theme of the conference, these revolved around celebrating the achievement of media freedom, recognising the gains and obstacles, and forging a path for the future.
The panels discussed the topics of press freedom in Afghanistan, the role of Afghan media in the ongoing peace and reconciliation process, women in journalism and their security, and fake news and social responsibility. The diverse backgrounds of journalists and media professionals yielded many fruitful discussions on the current challenges facing Afghan media, and ways they can be overcome.
In between the panels, the participants also witnessed the British Museum’s unique display and handover ceremony of Afghan Gandharan sculptures, which had previously been illegally exported from Afghanistan and was subsequently captured by the British border authorities. The sculptures, dating between the fourth and sixth century AD consist of a magnificent bodhisattva torso in grey schist and a group of nine heads sculptured in clay and then decorated with paint.