On the eve of World Press Freedom Day, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) calls on all political stakeholders in the country to join hands in securing freedom of the press and the right of expression that have been one of the main achievements of the past decade in Afghanistan.
This year, as Afghanistan prepares for the presidential elections of 2014, press freedom, security of journalists, the right to obtain information and the right to expression will be among the most meaningful channels to a democratic and transparent leadership transition.
Although World Press Freedom Day has only been celebrated since 1993, it has much deeper roots in the United Nations: Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
“Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media” is the theme for the 2013 World Press Freedom Day.
Although Afghanistan has made remarkable achievements in the field of media, Afghan journalists are still facing daily threats, intimidation and arrests that undermine their ability to operate professionally. Over the past 45 days alone, the Afghan media watchdog, NAI, has reported 16 cases of violence against journalists. Two of these cases were armed violence, one claimed by anti-Government forces and the other by unknown elements.
“Amongst other checks and balances, a vibrant media, with vigorous debate and balanced coverage can help to a greater extent with the transparency and accountability necessary for true democratic participation,” says Ján Kubiš, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan.