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Afghanistan supports RSF’s call to protect journalists

September 26, 2016

Afghanistan National Unity Government has officially declared support to a global call by journalists’ protection organizations including Afghanistan’s Journalists Center (AJFC), for the appointment of a UN Special Representative to monitor and oversee the safety of journalists worldwide.

As part of a global campaign initiated by the Reporters Without Borders (RSF), in late August 2016, AFJC along with a coalition of media outlets, NGOs, journalists, and prominent public figures called on the Afghan government to support the appointment of a UN Special Representative for the safety of journalists.

An official letter was sent to the Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani and President’s Chief Advisor on Public Relations Nader Nadery, requesting the government to include the issue in the government’s official statement at the UN General Assembly.

Fortunately, while addressing to the 71st session of the UNGA, Afghanistan’s Second Vice President Sarwad Danish declared government’s support to the appointment of a UN special representative on journalists’ safety.

Danish has said that Afghan journalists continue to be under huge threats in the battlefields and by the terrorist groups and the Afghan government expects that the appointment of a UN special representative would help to protect journalists and defend their rights.

AFJC welcomes Afghan government’s support and calls on all other parties and organizations to support this global campaign which would help journalists to work in a safe environment and to put an end to impunity.

AFJC Deputy Head Wais Khetab said that it’s crucial for media professionals to be able to work in secure conditions and the appointment of a UN special representative would definitely draw more global attention to the risks faced by journalists.

“Journalists safety must be ensured. They should be able to report in a free and safe manner, without fear of harassment and intimidation.” He added.

This global call comes amid increasing concerns about journalist’s safety. In 2015 alone, 67 journalists lost lives in performing their duties. Over the past 10 years, 787 journalists and media workers have been killed globally.

The ongoing violence against journalists and free media are continued intentions to supress freedom of speech, which causes millions of people to deprive from the rights of information.

In a past decade, several resolutions have been adopted by the UN Security Council and General Assembly. However, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his last annual report on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity (published on August 6, 2015) didn’t hesitate to speak of a “failure to reduce the frequency and scale of targeted violence that journalist’s face and the near absolute impunity for such crimes.” These strong resolutions could be no more than empty words without a concrete mechanism to ensure the compliance of member states with their obligations.

The advocates urge that a UN Special Representative on Safety of Journalists working closely with the UN Secretary General will significantly empower the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the issue of Impunity and all efforts led by UNESCO. It will have the political weight, the capacity to act quickly, and the legitimacy to coordinate with all UN bodies to implement change.