World Press Freedom Day was marked in Afghanistan today with speeches and awards to journalists who produced top reports on key issues affecting the lives of Afghans.
At an event in Kabul hosted by an Afghan media watchdog, Nai-Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan, with the support of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), speakers demanded enhanced safety for Afghan journalists and an end to the culture of impunity for the perpetrators of violence.
The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, in a joint message with the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussain, said the world has recently witnessed horrendous attacks against journalists—at least one journalist is killed each week, in conflict and non-conflict zones.
“We must redouble efforts to enhance the safety of journalists and put an end to impunity, and this is the goal of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, spearheaded by UNESCO and supported by other UN entities,” said Mr. Ban in the joint statement.
In today’s ceremony, the Director of Nai, Siddiqullah Tawhidi, said that 105 cases of violence against journalists were reported in Afghanistan during the last year including some cases of journalists being killed.
“Unfortunately, it shows a significant increase in cases of violence against journalists compared to 78 cases during the previous year,” said Mr. Tawhidi.
He attributed 47.8 per cent of the cases of violence against journalists to the Government of Afghanistan and 18.8 per cent to the Taliban and insurgent groups.
He also mentioned the actual cases of violence are larger than reported as many journalists do not report cases of violence.
Other speakers at the event demanded the Government take practical steps to implement the “Access to Information Law,” endorsed by the Afghan President in December last year, which enables Afghans to get access to important information.
Six journalists were given awards for producing reports, photos and programmes during the year on key national issues.
World Press Freedom Day is marked on 3 May every year. The day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993.
UNESCO leads the worldwide celebration by promoting a global theme for the day which for 2015 is “Let Journalism Thrive.”