Afghan National Journalists Day marked across Afghanistan
KABUL- The Afghan National Journalists Day was marked today in Kabul with a strong message in support of media freedom and solidarity with journalists in Afghanistan.
Organized by the Afghanistan Journalist Centre, the event highlighted the critical role that the media plays in Afghanistan. More than a hundred journalists, senior government officials, including Second Vice-President Sarwar Danish, civil society and the international community representatives attended.
Journalists and media organizations have played a crucial role in changing Afghan society, said UN envoy Tadamichi Yamamoto. “The work of journalists is critical to promoting the fundamental values of society, including political rights, human rights, and economic and social rights. When we look at the gains of the past 17 years, we realise how much media have contributed,” he said as he acknowledged the difficulties faced by Afghan media. “Attacks against journalists and media workers are not only criminal acts against unarmed civilians, but they also sap the circulation of free information,” stated Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.
Second Vice-President Danish said media freedom is an essential part of peace and reiterated the Afghan government’s commitment to upholding press freedom and freedom of expression.
“We believe that freedom of speech is very important for the people of Afghanistan,” said Danish adding that parties involved in peace negotiations should ensure that freedom of speech and a free press are upheld as enshrined by the constitution. “With this, we can save our 18 years achievements,” said Danish, who is also the Chairperson of ‘The Joint Committee for the Safety and Security of Journalists” a body working to combat impunity.
Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists and the media, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. 2018 was by far one of the deadliest and most violent years for Afghan press. At least 14 journalists and other media workers were killed, including nine in a single attack in Kabul on 30 April according to the Afghan Journalist Safety Committee (AJSC).
AJSC cited growing insecurity and instability as having further complicated the safety landscape alongside, a persistent culture of impunity, and a failure to enforce laws and implement procedures and statutes on the safety of journalists.
During the event today, Naweed Ahmad Barakzai, a reporter with Pajhwok received the 2019 Afghanistan Journalist of the Year award. Similar events were held across Afghanistan.