By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: On the advent of World Press Freedom Day, the United Nations (UN) on Sunday called for media preservation as part of any peace process in Afghanistan.
“All parties in any peace negotiations must uphold all fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom of expression,” a statement quoting the UN secretary-general’s special representative Doborah Lyons said.
The statement said nothing should be allowed to threaten the critical advances in press freedoms in Afghanistan and that the United Nations was actively engaged in supporting independent media in Afghanistan.
“Our human rights colleagues track crimes against media that are related to the armed conflict,” the statement added.
It went on as saying that the UN family in Afghanistan promoted the protection of journalists and battling impunity to bring perpetrators to justice.
The diplomat assured that they will do all in their power to support free media, so all journalists — Afghan media and foreign correspondents alike — can operate without fear of being harassed, intimidated or attacked.
“As we celebrate the successes of the Afghan press corps on World Press Freedom Day, we must remember the journalists who have lost their lives while pursuing their noble objectives in Afghanistan. Others have suffered intimidation and beatings while carrying out their duties.”
Hate speech, including incitement to violence and other forms of this poisonous activity, could not be allowed to turn Afghan against Afghan, harm peace efforts or to damage sensitive political processes, Lyons stressed.
According to the statement, hate speech undermined social cohesion and eroded shared values, setting back the cause of stability and human dignity.
“The media must stand up against hate speech, and we all must consider what we can do to safeguard journalists and to recognize our collective obligations to take practical steps to address those forces that menace the media, including in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
As COVID-19 threatens life in Afghanistan and around the world, Lyons said, the importance of the media providing accurate and fact-based information could not be overstated.
“Harmful health advice has proliferated, with falsehoods filling the airwaves and conspiracy theories infecting the Internet. I salute the journalists who are fact-checking misleading stories, as the infection of misinformation puts lives at risk.”