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Afghanistan: UN expert condemns attacks on journalists

Afghanistan: UN expert condemns attacks on journalists, says perpetrators must be brought to justice

GENEVA (1 May 2018) - The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression condemned in the strongest possible terms the killing of nine journalists covering an attack in the Afghan capital Kabul, and called on the Government, with the assistance of the international community, to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“Yesterday’s attack, like all such attacks on journalists, is an attack on Afghanistan’s free press and the public’s right to know,” said David Kaye. “But it is also a direct attack on specific individuals, and I extend my deepest condolences to the families of the victims and the people of Afghanistan.”

According to reports, after one terrorist blast killed many civilians, a follow-up blast targeted journalists who arrived to cover the attack. In that follow-up attack, those killed included Mahram Durani, Ebadullah Hananzai, Yar Mohammad Tokhi, Ghazi Rasooli, Nowroz Ali Rajabi, Shah Marai, Saleem Talash, Ali Saleemi, and Sabawoon Kakar. Several other journalists were wounded.

Media reports said the blasts killed at least 26 people. President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the killings, for which responsibility has been claimed by the terrorist group Islamic State.

In a separate incident on Monday, Afghan journalist Ahmad Shah was shot dead in the eastern province of Khost.

“It would be easy to conclude that there is nothing one can do in the face of such awful terrorist attacks,” Kaye said. “But there are concrete steps that should be taken. Those responsible must be brought to justice, which may require international support for Afghanistan.

“All governments must condemn the killings, and public and private donors should provide emergency support to the press in Afghanistan. Training, safety, and professional solidarity are always essential, for all media workers, staff and freelancers alike.

“These attacks serve to remind those who glibly demonize the press that journalists serve a crucial function in societies: the illumination of all matters of public interest. The legacy of those killed is their reminder that serving the public’s right to know can be dangerous and deserves all of our respect and support.”

ENDS

Mr. David Kaye, as UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.


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