On World Press Freedom Day, the international community in Afghanistan released a joint statement with diplomatic missions of foreign nations.
Embassies of the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden as well as the European Union and United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan issued a joint statement on World Press Freedom Day on Monday.
Released joint statement is aimed at supporting Afghan journalists and the media, it also demonstrates that the international community remains committed to Afghanistan.
International Embassies, EU and UNAMA has reaffirmed their continuing support for the media sector in Afghanistan.
According to the statement international community at such a crucial moment in Afghanistan observed the importance of media in the country, and vows to remain committed to supporting freedom of the press, journalists, and the media sector.
“Today we join Afghanistan in celebrating World Press Freedom Day. Afghanistan’s vibrant media sector is one of the country’s greatest success stories of the last two decades”, the Joint statement said.
“A free and independent media and a strong media sector is an essential part of an inclusive and representative Afghanistan. Free, safe and independent journalists and media organisations are necessary to help tackle corruption and allow people to participate meaningfully in democracy with access to accurate and trustworthy information.
“The media is integral to building public support, creating a shared understanding and support for peace and any future political settlement to the conflict, holding to account those who would oppose peace for their own narrow political ends”, the statement added.
The international community reiterated their commitment to stand by Afghan journalists as international friends and partners to Afghanistan, the diplomatic missions vowed to stand up for journalists, media rights, and resist any excessive restrictions on their activities.
The statement added that more work needs to be done, and that the “campaign of violence against journalists and media professionals must end”.
“Journalists must be protected, and those who commit acts of violence and murder against workers in the sector must be brought to justice. We recognise that female journalists and media professionals are particularly at risk”.
“The impunity for such crimes remains a serious challenge and creates a chilling environment, limiting the media sector’s ability to operate freely”, read the statement.
“Afghanistan’s free and independent media sector has been hard-won. Many Afghans have sacrificed their time, their energy, their money and, for some, their lives to build this crucial public good”, the statement said.
“We pledge our continued support in defence of a free and independent Afghan media. It must be defended”, the foreign community’s statement concluded.
A British Embassy Spokesperson during the event also focused on UK’s commitment to supporting Afghanistan,
“A free and independent media and a strong media sector is an essential part of an inclusive and representative Afghanistan. As we transition to a new chapter of international support for Afghanistan, as Afghanistan’s international friends and partners, we reaffirm our commitment to stand by its journalists and the media sector” the spokesperson said.
UNAMA in a report said that at least 11 media workers were killed from September 2020 to January 2021, and added that a total of 63 human rights defenders and media professionals were murdered between January 2018 to January 2021.
The space for media and human rights efforts has contracted due to the extreme violence, many professionals have either quit the job, exercised self-censorship, or have left the country for good.
The targeted killings of media and human rights activists had a wide impact, even diminishing hopes towards efforts for peace.