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Afghanistan should provide updated information on journalist killings to UNESCO

 

TO:

Ashraf Ghani
President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Presidential Palace
Kabul, Afghanistan

CC:

Abdullah Abdullah
Chief Executive Officer of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

H. E. Mr Abdel-Ellah Sediqi, Ambassador
Permanent Delegate of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to UNESCO       

H.E. Salahuddin Rabbani
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Sayed Aqa Hussain Fazel Sancharaki
Deputy Minister of Information and Culture

Deputy Minister of Information and Culture


16 May 2017

Your Excellency,

IFEX, the global network of 108 organisations working to promote and defend freedom of expression worldwide, including in Afghanistan through our member the Afghanistan Journalists Center, writes to you regarding the UNESCO Director-General’s 2017 request to provide information on the status of judicial inquiries into the killings of journalists that occurred in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2016. We also encourage you to be forthcoming on general measures being taken to promote the safety of journalists and to combat impunity.

The biennial Director-General’s report was commissioned by the International Programme for the Development of Communications (IPDC) as a means for States to demonstrate their commitment to addressing crimes against journalists and media workers by providing detailed information on the steps being taken to achieve justice and end impunity.

In the Council’s 30th session, it was resolved that the report would also serve as a monitoring mechanism for tracking progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 16.10 on access to information and fundamental rights, which UN member states unanimously adopted. In the same decision, it was noted that the report’s value would be further strengthened through the collection of information on good practices.

We applaud recent moves to form a special committee to investigate individual killings of journalists in the post-Taliban era, as well as the Vice President’s 3 May affirmation of Afghanistan’s commitment to end impunity for these crimes. We also welcome the information that you provided for the 2016 Director-General’s report on this issue.

We encourage you to continue this trend of accountability and submit the relevant updated information to UNESCO, also granting them permission to make it publicly available. We also hope that you will assist UNESCO in the collection of good practices by providing information on general safeguards being implemented for the protection of journalists and to end the problem of impunity in Afghanistan. Being an interim reporting year, your response will be included in both UNESCO's upcoming 2017 World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development report as well as their 2018 report on The Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity.

Since 2006, more than 800 killings of journalists and media workers have occurred worldwide. In over 90% of these cases, the perpetrators have gone unpunished. This type of extreme unchecked violence is the ultimate form of censorship and severely curtails the flow of information necessary for a peaceful, prosperous and democratic society to flourish.  The culture of impunity that has developed around this issue only makes it more likely that such crimes will continue to occur. For this reason, the issue of impunity for killings of journalists is one of the greatest threats to freedom of expression and information worldwide.

To ensure that your efforts are documented in the relevant reports, we call on your government to demonstrate your leadership and accountability by making your submission to UNESCO before 30 May 2017. In so doing, you will be helping to improve political will to address violence, building a global repertoire of best legal practices, and showing that attacks on freedom of expression in Afghanistan will not be tolerated.

We look forward to your response to this letter and to seeing updated information on the cases mentioned above made public in the relevant reports and on the UNESCO website. For more information visit:

http://www.ifex.org/noimpunity

http://www.unesco.org/dg-report

Sincerely,

 

Annie Game                                                                                                                                        
Executive Director                                                                                                                      
IFEX

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