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Impunity culture hits media freedom in Afghanistan: AFJC

Kabul – I November 2018 –  As many as 102 journalists and media workers lost their lives in Afghanistan since the collapse of the Taliban regime 2001, according to the Afghanistan Journalists Center(AFJC). In 95% of cases the perpetrators go unpunished.

Of these, at least 74 were killed by the IS(Daesh) and the Taliban-mostly targeted- 21 by unknown individual or criminal groups, 3 by NATO forces, 3 by family or relatives and one by Afghan police.

According to the Afghanistan Journalists Center(AFJC) these journalists and media workers lost their lives in targeted killings, bomb attacks, or in the cross-fire and armed conflicts across the country.

Mirwais Jalil, Mahmoud Saremi, Marc Brunereau, Johanne Sutton, Pierre Billaud, Volker Handloik, Maria Grazia Cutuli, Azizullah Haidari, Harry Burton, Julio Fuentes, Ulf Strömberg, Christian Struwe, Karen Fischer, Shima Rezayee, Maiwand, AbdulQudus, Rahman Qul, Ajmal Naqshbandi, Sayed Agha, Shakiba Sanga Amaj, Zakia Zaki, Abdul Monir, Carsten Thomassen, Sammad Ruhani, Javid Ahmad, Sultan Mohammad Munadi, Michelle Lang, Ropert Hamer, Sayed Hamid Noori, Rafiq Azizi, Omaid Khpalwak, Farhad Taqadusi, Jafar Wafa, Sadam Khan Bahadorzoi, Abdul Hadi Hamdard, Donya Zakeri, and Muzammil Sadeqi except Jalil and Seremi  were killed after the collapse of Taliban regime in 2001.

Mohsin Hashemi, Noor Ahmad Noori, Shahed Naimi, Nils Horner, Ahmad Sardar, Anja Niedringhaus, Khalid Yaqobi, Palwasha Tokhi, Zubair Hatami, Aqil Mohammad Weqar, Zabihullah Pashtonyar, Amanullah Atayee, Ali Mohammadi, Hussain Amiri, Jawad Hussaini, Mohammad Hussain, Mahri Azizi, Maryam Ibrahimi and Zainab Mirzayee were other journalists and media actors killed since the last 17 years in Afghanistan.

Zubair Khaksar, Yaqob Sharafat, David Gilkey, Zabihullah Tamanna, Niamatullah Zahir, Nasir Mudassir, Noorullah, Faridah, Abdul Latif, Mohammad Amir, Abdul Ghani, Zainullah, Habibullah Hosainzadah, Mohammad Nazir, Aziz Nawin and Omar Arghandiwal, Abdul Hamid Ramazani, Hosain Ali Nazari, Naqibullah, Ghulam Reza Big, Khadem Hosain, Abdul Raouf Mahdawi, Khodadad Ahmadi, Andalib Ziyayee, Hosain Hasani, Reza Bahrami, Khalil Rezayee, Haidar Nazari, Mahdi Mosawi, Abdul Mannan Arghand, Shahmari Faizi, Yarmohammad Tokhi, Qazi Rsouli, NouruzAli Khamosh, Abdullah Hannanzai, Mahram Durani, Sabawoon Kakar, Ali Salimi, Salim Talash, AhmadShah, Mohammad Akhtar, Ataullah Rahimi, Samim Faramarz, Ramez Ahmadi and Salim Angar were also among those killed.

Main while, Janullah Hashemzada and Anwar Salehi, Afghan journalists shot dead in Pakistan.

Killing journalists in last resort to censorship and the culture of impunity posed a serious threat to freedom of expression and independent media in Afghanistan.

In 2016, after AFJC’s series of nationwide campaigns, the Afghan government in cooperation with the journalists’ federation created a coordinating body in Kabul and provincial sub-committees in all remaining 33 provinces to address the impunity concern.

The committee consisting of government officials from ministries of information and culture, interior, defense, foreign affairs, justice, attorney general office, directorate of local governance, national directorate of security (intelligence agency) and representatives of journalists’ associations were tasked to follow all the cases of violence, threat, insult, harassment and abuse occurred in the country, in particular since the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001 and also to take measureable actions to protect journalists and media outlets.

But according to AFJC, the Afghan government is failing to investigate the killings of journalists.

“Of more than 104 cases, the cases of only 8 journalists went to court for trial of which prosecution and trial was concluded in six cases only and conviction handed in five cases only” said Afghanistan Journalists Center(AFJC) executive director Ahmad Quraishi

“Impunity for crimes against journalists gives a license for more violence in Afghanistan, the perpetrators of crimes against journalists should not believe they are above the law. A culture of impunity must be challenged” Mr. Quraishi added

AFJC executive director said” We can’t tolerate further negligence in the prosecution of those involved in acts of violence against journalists, the culture of impunity should end now the organization wants law enforcement in Afghanistan to pursue the cases of killing and violence against journalists more rigorously