As the U.S. negotiations with the Taliban make progress to reach into a political settlement in Afghanistan, Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish says the parties involved in the peace talks should ensure that freedom of speech is upheld and past years’ achievements are protected.
“We believe that freedom of speech is very important for the people of Afghanistan,” Danish said adding that parties involved in peace negotiations should ensure that freedom of speech and a free press are upheld as enshrined by the constitution.
“With this, we can save our 18 years achievements,” Danish said, who is also the Chairperson of ‘The Joint Committee for the Safety and Security of Journalists” a body working to combat impunity.
The Second Vice President made the remarks at a ceremony held on Monday in Kabul to mark Afghan National Journalists Day.
The event was organized by the Afghanistan Journalist Centre to highlight the critical role that the media plays in Afghanistan. More than a hundred journalists, senior government officials, civil society and the international community representatives attended.
Journalists and media organizations have played a crucial role in changing Afghan society, said UN envoy Tadamichi Yamamoto.
“The work of journalists is critical to promoting the fundamental values of society, including political rights, human rights, and economic and social rights. When we look at the gains of the past 17 years, we realise how much media have contributed,” he said as he acknowledged the difficulties faced by Afghan media.
“Attacks against journalists and media workers are not only criminal acts against unarmed civilians, but they also sap the circulation of free information,” stated Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists and the media, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. 2018 was by far one of the deadliest and most violent years for Afghan press. At least 14 journalists and other media workers were killed, including nine in a single attack in Kabul on 30 April according to the Afghan Journalist Safety Committee (AJSC).
During the event today, Shapoor Farahman, a reporter with Ariana News was among top 10 journalists who received the 2019 Afghanistan Journalist of the Year award.