AFJC calls on Afghan government to support new resolution on safety of journalists and issue of impunity

27 September 2018

Kabul—Afghanistan Journalists Center(AFJC), a member of the global IFEX network, together with the global freedom of expression organisation ARTICLE 19, in a letter  to the foreign minister Rabbani and the country’s representatives to UN and HRC requested to co-sponsor the new resolution on safety of journalists and issue of impunity.

The UN continues to make impressive normative progress on this issue. Since 2012, the HRC has approved three resolutions. During the HRC’s 39 th regular session, the UN body intends to pass a fourth, building on the ambitious commitments outlined in previous resolutions by laborating on the theme of prevention. While this is a positive development, the challenge is in ensuring implementation of these standards and commitments at the national level.

Having countries co-sponsor these resolutions would greatly help to put additional pressure on them to do so.

This year’s resolution is on track to make a number of timely and crucial new recommendations for States, repeating almost all commitments made previously in HRC Resolution 33/2 (2016).

In addition to those commitments, the new draft includes commitments for States to prevent the misuse of defamation and libel laws, in particular criminal provisions, to cease the use of state-sponsored hacking to engage in surveillance of journalists, as well as desist from DSOS attacks aimed at media websites as well as other efforts at website blocking, and new language on protecting whistleblowers. Much of the language from previous resolutions regarding protection mechanisms, investigations and prosecutions has been re-added, with some of those elements strengthened too.

Importantly, this resolution condemns the increasing practice by political leaders and public authorities of denigrating or intimidating the press and individual journalists, and calls on States to instead raise public awareness about the importance of an independent, pluralistic and diverse media.

Addressed to: His Excellency Mr. Salahuddin Rabbani, Foreign Minister of the I.R. of Afghanistan

CC: Her Excellency Ms. Suraya Dalil, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Representative of I.R. Afghanistan to the UN Office in Geneva

CC: His Excellency Mahmoud SaiKal, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of I.R. of Afghanistan to the United Nations

September 27, 2018

Co sponsorship of draft UN Human Rights Council Resolution on the safety of journalists

Dear Sir,

IFEX Member, Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) as a leading independent and non-governmental organization, working for promotion of freedom of expression/press in Afghanistan, respectfully requests that Afghanistan support an important draft resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) on “the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity”(A/HRC/39/L.7).

The draft resolution, which will be the fourth to be considered by the HRC on the safety of journalists since 2012, comes at a crucial time, ahead of the five-year anniversary of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on 2 November.

Notwithstanding numerous UN resolutions developing strong normative standards on the safety of journalists, the reality journalists face in too many countries in all parts of the world is an increasingly unsafe one. In 2017 alone, the UNESCO Director-General condemned the killing of 77 journalists, with less than 1 in 10 cases leading to a conviction.

We applaud recent moves to form a special committee to investigate individual killings of journalists in the post-Taliban era, as well as the Vice President’s 3 May affirmation of Afghanistan’s commitment to end impunity for these crimes.

The draft resolution contains important commitments from the international community to do more to protect against, prevent, and prosecute, crimes against journalists, with a focus on elaborating on elements of prevention.This includes commitments to adopt numerous measures to ensure a safe and enabling environment for freedom of expression.

As a member of the global IFEX network, together with the global freedom of expression organisation ARTICLE 19, we believe that it is important that Afghanistan takes a firm and public stance in favour of journalists’ freedom on the international stage at the UN.

We regret that Afghanistan has not cosponsored recent UN resolutions on the safety of journalists at the UN General Assembly (GA resolution 72/175, December 2017) or UN Human Rights Council (HRC resolution 33/2, September 2016). We respectfully appeal to you to consider the present draft resolution on its merits, in particular considering that the commitments it contains are in line with Afghanistan’s national legal framework and international human rights law obligations and commitments. For you to add Afghanistan as a cosponsor would, in our view, strengthen the resolution significantly, and reflect positively on Afghanistan’s stance internationally.

Yours Sincerely,

Ahmad Quraishi

Executive Director, Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC)