The Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) has urged the Taliban to take decisive actions to bring an end to impunity for crimes committed against journalists and media workers in the country.
This appeal coincides with the International Day to End Impunity of Crimes Committed against Journalists and the 11th anniversary of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists. Additionally, the AFJC has called upon the Taliban to alleviate limitations and restrictions on media freedom.
On November 2, 2023, in support of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, the AFJC highlights the distressing state of justice concerning attacks on the press in Afghanistan. Over the past two decades, Afghanistan has tragically lost numerous journalists and media workers due to deliberate attacks, organized crimes, and incidents related to the ongoing conflict. What is particularly alarming is the persistent culture of impunity that shields perpetrators from being held accountable.
According to the AFJC’s latest report, a staggering 128 journalists and media workers, including 20 women, have lost their lives since 2001. However, justice has been served in less than 10% of these cases, leaving families and the media community in an ongoing state of pain and grief.
The AFJC’s findings indicate the Taliban’s involvement in 60 cases and ISIS in 39 cases of journalist and media worker killings. In 21 cases, unidentified individuals were responsible, while personal disputes or family members were linked to 4 cases. NATO forces were involved in 3 cases, and the pre-Taliban police were implicated in one incident.
While there are fewer female journalists among the victims of fatal attacks, they face particular risks from offline and online gender-based attacks, the organization said.
Following the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021, journalists in the country have encountered restrictions. Although there has been a decrease in the number of journalist and media worker killings in the past two years, with only three incidents reported, which is indeed a positive development, it remains concerning to observe the severe limitations the Taliban has imposed on media freedom. Over this period, the AFJC has documented at least 13 directives that restrict journalists, especially women, leading to negative consequences for those who do not comply. Journalists who have defied these orders have faced threats or imprisonment, and media organizations have been subjected to punitive measures, including temporary or permanent bans.
The AFJC emphasizes the urgent need to address the prevailing culture of impunity in Afghanistan. The previous government was urged to combat this culture, and the current situation demands that justice be served in light of these grave events. Furthermore, the AFJC appeals to the Taliban leadership to take bold and decisive actions to end impunity for crimes committed against journalists and media workers and to lift restrictions on media freedom. It is crucial that journalists can fulfill their vital role without fear or self-censorship, ensuring that the voices of the Afghan people are heard and amplified.