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AFJC calls on Afghan government to support new resolution on safety of journalists and issue of impunity

27 September 2018

Kabul—Afghanistan Journalists Center(AFJC), a member of the global IFEX network, together with the global freedom of expression organisation ARTICLE 19, in a letter  to the foreign minister Rabbani and the country’s representatives to UN and HRC requested to co-sponsor the new resolution on safety of journalists and issue of impunity.

The UN continues to make impressive normative progress on this issue. Since 2012, the HRC has approved three resolutions. During the HRC’s 39 th regular session, the UN body intends to pass a fourth, building on the ambitious commitments outlined in previous resolutions by laborating on the theme of prevention. While this is a positive development, the challenge is in ensuring implementation of these standards and commitments at the national level.

Having countries co-sponsor these resolutions would greatly help to put additional pressure on them to do so.

This year’s resolution is on track to make a number of timely and crucial new recommendations for States, repeating almost all commitments made previously in HRC Resolution 33/2 (2016).

In addition to those commitments, the new draft includes commitments for States to prevent the misuse of defamation and libel laws, in particular criminal provisions, to cease the use of state-sponsored hacking to engage in surveillance of journalists, as well as desist from DSOS attacks aimed at media websites as well as other efforts at website blocking, and new language on protecting whistleblowers. Much of the language from previous resolutions regarding protection mechanisms, investigations and prosecutions has been re-added, with some of those elements strengthened too.

Importantly, this resolution condemns the increasing practice by political leaders and public authorities of denigrating or intimidating the press and individual journalists, and calls on States to instead raise public awareness about the importance of an independent, pluralistic and diverse media.

 


 

Addressed to: His Excellency Mr. Salahuddin Rabbani, Foreign Minister of the I.R. of Afghanistan

CC: Her Excellency Ms. Suraya Dalil, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Representative of I.R. Afghanistan to the UN Office in Geneva

CC: His Excellency Mahmoud SaiKal, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of I.R. of Afghanistan to the United Nations

September 27, 2018

Co sponsorship of draft UN Human Rights Council Resolution on the safety of journalists

Dear Sir,

IFEX Member, Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) as a leading independent and non-governmental organization, working for promotion of freedom of expression/press in Afghanistan, respectfully requests that Afghanistan support an important draft resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) on “the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity”(A/HRC/39/L.7).

The draft resolution, which will be the fourth to be considered by the HRC on the safety of journalists since 2012, comes at a crucial time, ahead of the five-year anniversary of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on 2 November.

Notwithstanding numerous UN resolutions developing strong normative standards on the safety of journalists, the reality journalists face in too many countries in all parts of the world is an increasingly unsafe one. In 2017 alone, the UNESCO Director-General condemned the killing of 77 journalists, with less than 1 in 10 cases leading to a conviction.

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.

The draft resolution contains important commitments from the international community to do more to protect against, prevent, and prosecute, crimes against journalists, with a focus on elaborating on elements of prevention.This includes commitments to adopt numerous measures to ensure a safe and enabling environment for freedom of expression.

As a member of the global IFEX network, together with the global freedom of expression organisation ARTICLE 19, we believe that it is important that Afghanistan takes a firm and public stance in favour of journalists’ freedom on the international stage at the UN.

We regret that Afghanistan has not cosponsored recent UN resolutions on the safety of journalists at the UN General Assembly (GA resolution 72/175, December 2017) or UN Human Rights Council (HRC resolution 33/2, September 2016). We respectfully appeal to you to consider the present draft resolution on its merits, in particular considering that the commitments it contains are in line with Afghanistan’s national legal framework and international human rights law obligations and commitments. For you to add Afghanistan as a cosponsor would, in our view, strengthen the resolution significantly, and reflect positively on Afghanistan’s stance internationally.

Yours Sincerely,

Ahmad Quraishi

Executive Director, Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC)

 

 

 

AFJC backs International Call for fair trial of alleged Kazakh journalist

 

April 7, 2017

Kabul: Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) shares international concerns over the detention of ---Zhanbolat Mamay, editor-in-chief of Kazakh opposition newspaper Sayasi kalam/ Tribuna.

AFJC joins the international press freedoms organizations and call for an end to the persecution of the journalist and a fair trial by impartial authorities at all stages of the criminal proceeding against him.

The open letter below was sent by IFEX to the office of President Nazarbayev.

Your Excellency, 

The undersigned members of IFEX, the global network promoting and defending freedom of expression, are writing to express our profound concern over the arrest and sustained harassment of Kazakh journalist Zhanbolat Mamay, editor-in-chief of the opposition paper Sayasi kalam/ Tribuna. 

Mamay is accused of laundering money allegedly embezzled from BTA Bank by Mukhtar Ablayazov, opposition leader and former head of BTA Bank between 2005-2009, punishment for which is a major fine or imprisonment for three to seven years. Zhanbolat Mamay has categorically denied his guilt, and in a statement on 11 February stated that the accusations against him are politically motivated. Given the embezzlement occurred in 2009 and Mamay did not become head of Sayasi kalam/ Tribuna until 2012, this concern appears to be warranted. 

Mamay is known for his opposition to proposed land reforms, and was previously charged with 'inciting social discord' due to his visits to Zhanaozen during the strikes in 2012. 

On the evening of 11 February, A. Baydauletova, a Kazakh judge, announced her decision to arrest and detain Mamay for two months. On 17 February, without explanation, Mamay was transferred from quarantine cell No. 81, where first-time convicts are held in custody, to cell No. 197, a group cell for convicts serving sentences for particularly serious crimes. Mamay reports that in this cell he was beaten and lost consciousness. On 21 February a medical officer and a special prosecutor for supervision of the detention centers who visited the facility examined Mamay and confirmed that he had visible grazes and bruises which the administration of the facility didn't properly record. Mamay's spouse Inga Imanbay has also received a series of extortionate phone calls seeking 2 million KZT. The callers threatened Mamay with murder, and demanded that Mamay refuse to engage in politics.

Without explanation, Mamay was transferred to cell No. 197, a group cell for convicts serving sentences for particularly serious crimes. Mamay reports that in this cell he was beaten and lost consciousness.

On 24 February, despite the facts, the Almaty Prosecutor's Office and the Committee on Penitentiary System of the Ministry of Internal Affairs distributed a press release stating that Mamay was not subjected to any pressure, beating and extortion. The Committee in defense of Mamay on 26 February denied this information and re-stated the evidence of beating and extortion. 

Taking all of these points into consideration, we are concerned both for Mamay and his family's future safety and for the impartiality of the ongoing case against him. In particular, the placement of Mamay, who has no prior convictions, in a cell with those convicted of serious crimes appears designed to put pressure on him and seriously jeopardizes his personal safety. 

In view of the above, we urge you to take immediate action to:

  • Investigate thoroughly Mamay's beating in the detention center, as well as his unexplained transfer to cell 197, and bring to justice all those responsible;
  • Stop the persecution of Zhanbolat Mamay and ensure his fair trial by impartial authorities at all stages of the criminal proceeding against him, in accordance with the international obligations of Kazakhstan;
  • Investigate the threats received by Mamay's spouse, and guarantee the future personal safety of Mamay and his family.

Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
ActiveWatch – Media Monitoring Agency
Afghanistan Journalists Center
Albanian Media Institute
ARTICLE 19
Association of Caribbean Media Workers
Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
Cambodian Center for Human Rights
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Center for Media Studies & Peace Building
Committee to Protect Journalists
Foundation for Press Freedom - FLIP
Freedom Forum
Globe International Center
Index on Censorship
International Press Centre
Journaliste en danger
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Media Watch
Pacific Islands News Association
Pakistan Press Foundation
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms - MADA
PEN Canada
Reporters Without Borders
Social Media Exchange - SMEX
Vigilance pour la Démocratie et l’État Civique
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

AFJC asks Afghan government to support the creation of a Special Representative for the safety of journalists

August 30, 2016

To: Mr. salahuddin Rabbani, Foreign minister of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

cc: Nader Nadery, chief advisor to the president, public &strategic affairs

and ambassador-at-large for freedom of expression;

787 journalists and media personnel were killed while exercising their profession over the last 10 years. In the year 2015 alone, the numbers reflect 67 journalists killed worldwide.

Through them, the right to information of hundreds of millions of citizens has been sacrificed. The major problems around the world, from environmental issues to extremist violence, cannot be resolved without the work of journalists.

Afghanistan Journalists Center along with a coalition of media outlets, NGOs, journalists, and prominent public figures, are urging you to support the appointment of a Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for the safety of journalists.

Despite various resolutions adopted in the past decade, by both the Security Council and the General Assembly, United Nations 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 journalists 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.

In this regard, only a Special Representative to the UN Secretary General for the 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 lead by UNESCO, have the political weight, the capacity to act quickly, and the legitimacy to coordinate with all UN bodies to implement change.

We write to ask you to officially support the appointment of a Special Representative for the Safety of Journalists. We request that Afghanistan make an official statement of support at the opening of the UN General Assembly in September.

It is time for concrete action. It is time for journalists to work in a safe environment and to put an end to impunity.

 

Sincerely,

Ahmad quraishi

Executive director

Afghanistan Journalists Center

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