International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists marked in Kabul
KABUL – The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists was marked today in Kabul with a call for greater accountability for those who seek to silence free media.
Co-organized by the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) and UNAMA, the event highlighted the unacceptable level of intimidation and violence against journalists, especially in the country’s regions where there is a lack of protection for the media. More than a hundred journalists, senior government officials, civil society and the international community representatives attended.
Attacks and crimes against journalists and media in Afghanistan must come to an end said a UN official.
“Afghan journalists have paid the ultimate price for trying to inform their fellow citizens” said Renaud Detalle, UNAMA Deputy Chief of Human Rights, who reiterated the urgent need for greater protection and safety for the media. “The government is the primary duty bearer and has the responsibility to protect media against threats and intimidations from within or outside the government and provide the means for them to operate in safety.”
The National Security Council Procedures for Ensuring the Safety and Security of Journalists, launched last year is a step in the right direction, said Dattelle, “ We look forward to the first annual report which will provide us solid and verified data, not only on the crimes against journalists but also on the concrete steps, investigations, indictments and sentencing after fair trials of those who commit crimes against journalists,” he said.
Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists and the media, according to AJSC head, Najib Sharifi. 2017 has been one of the deadliest and most violent year for Afghan media, with more than 70 cases including the deaths of ten reporters, according to AJSC.
This situation is particularly dire for female reporters around the country, “Today, there are not any female journalists and media workers in at least 10 provinces of Afghanistan; Zabul, Uruzgan, Ghor, Panjsher, Paktika, Sar-pul, Logar, Nooristan, Laghman, and Kunar” explains Sharifi, that ultimately, the reduction on female journalists, reduces coverage of women issues.
Globally, crimes against journalists are on the rise with perpetuators often not brought to Justice. “Ninety percent of cases concerning the killing of journalists remain unpunished,” according to UNESCO. “Between 2006 and 2016, UNESCO condemned the killing of 930 journalists, the majority of whom were “local journalists, reporting local stories.” Afghanistan together with Mexico, lead in the number of journalists killed, 13 in 2016.
In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 2nd November as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. The Resolution urged Member States to implement definite measures countering the culture of impunity.