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November 21, 2018
The Kabul Times

Culture of impunity for crimes against journalists must be ended in Afghanistan

Journalists have no employment safety in Afghanistan and no punishment to perpetrators of violence against journalists is concerning. Relevant officials of Afghanistan government should end to the culture of impunity for crimes and violence against journalist.
Tadamichi Yamamoto, Head of United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) and Secretary – General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, has said attacks and crimes against journalists and media workers in Afghanistan are at intolerable level.
“Some of the crimes are of the most egregious nature; the deliberate targeted murder of reporters in acts of terrorism,” Yamamoto said. “The perpetrators of crimes should not believe they are above or beyond the law,” he said, adding that the culture of impunity must be challenged.
Freedom of media and expression is necessary for an open society and is a value that should not be challenged. When journalists are targeted, in general a society pays its price. Lots of journalists have been attacked. Perpetrators of all crimes and attacks against reporters are not above the law and should be punished.
Reporters are always facing with problems and challenges and in some extent are being threatened by armed opponents and local officials, but no institutions have addressed problems of journalists.
Last week, on the occasion of the International Day to End Immunity for Crimes against Journalists, UNAMA and the Afghan Journalist Safety Committee (AJSC) convened a Media Summit in Kabul in order to spotlight the impact of worsening violence against reporters in Afghanistan and to promote the adoption of a set of guidelines to improve the journalists’ safety.
According to AJSC, the level of violence and number of threats against journalists and the media in Afghanistan continues to rise. “2018 marks the bloodiest period since AJSC began tracking incidents related to the safety of journalists in the country,” said AJSC head, Najib Sharifi. At least 14 journalists and other media workers were killed, including nine in a single attack in Kabul on 30 April.
International Media Watchdogs have listed Afghanistan as one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a journalist. Sharifi cites growing insecurity and instability as having further complicated the safety landscape alongside, “a persistent culture of impunity, and a failure to enforce laws and implement procedures and statutes on the safety of journalists.”
The situation remains dire especially for female reporters and in remote regions where there is a particular lack of protection. According to a 2017 report by AJSC, there were no female journalists and media workers in at least ten provinces in the country. The reduction of female journalists has effectively meant a decrease in coverage of women issues.
Globally, crimes against journalists are on the rise too with perpetrators rarely brought to Justice.
More than 1,000 journalists were killed between 2006 and 2017, according to a UNESCO report. In 2013, the UN General Assembly adopted 2nd November as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. The Resolution urged the Member States to implement specific measures countering the culture of impunity.
Lailuma Noori

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