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RSF asks ICC to probe killings of Afghan journalists

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(Last Updated On: June 2, 2021)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has formally asked the International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to investigate murders of journalists and media workers in Afghanistan since March 2020.

In this time, 11 media workers, including journalists, have been killed in targeted attacks.

RSF has asked Bensouda to investigate these murders – which the organization said Wednesday could be regarded as war crimes – under article 15 of the ICC’s Rome statute.

The latest media victims were three women working for Enekaas TV in the eastern city of Jalalabad, who were gunned down while on their way home on 2 March.

Before that, Voice of Ghor radio station director Besmellah Adel Imaq was shot dead as he was returning home in Firoz Koh, the capital of the central province of Ghor, on 1 January.

Imaq was the fifth media worker to be killed in the space of two months.

The others were Mohammad Aliyas Dayee of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Pashto-language service, who was murdered in Lashkargah on 12 November; Malalai Maiwand, a TV presenter and representative of the Centre for the Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ), and her driver Taher Khan, who were murdered in Jalalabad on 10 December; and Rahmatollah Nekzad, a reporter for international media, who was gunned down in Ghazni on 21 December.

All of these journalists and media workers were targeted because of their work amid an armed conflict that has seen an increase in violence against journalists and civil society in general since early 2020, RSF said in a statement.

“RSF has every reason to believe that armed groups, especially the Taliban or Taliban affiliates, are responsible for this wave of killings,” the organization stated.

“RSF has asked the ICC’s chief prosecutor to include these murders in the crimes committed in Afghanistan since 2003 that she was authorised to investigate by the ICC’s Appeals Chamber in March 2020.

“With a view to prosecuting those responsible, RSF has asked her to determine whether they should be treated as war crimes or as another category of crimes defined by the ICC’s Rome Statute, such as crimes against humanity,” the organization stated.

At least 100 journalists, including 15 foreign journalists, have been killed in connection with their work in the past 20 years in Afghanistan, while more than 60 media outlets have been destroyed or attacked and hundreds of threats have been made against journalists and media.

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20 killed, 18 wounded in two separate traffic accidents in Laghman

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(Last Updated On: July 31, 2021)

Officials said Saturday 20 people including women and children were killed and 18 others wounded in two separate traffic accidents on the Kabul-Jalalabad highway, Laghman provincial officials said.

Asadullah Dawlatzai, spokesman for the Laghman governor confirmed the accidents and said the first one happened on Friday night when two vehicles collided in Naranj Bagh area of Qarghayi district.

Eight people died and 10 were injured in this accident.

According to Dawlatzai, 12 other people were killed and eight injured in another traffic incident in Qarghayi district of the province on Saturday morning.

He said both accidents were caused by driver negligence.

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Czechs approve program to help Afghan translators

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(Last Updated On: July 31, 2021)

The Czech government on Friday approved a program of help for Afghans who worked with Czech troops during their deployment in NATO missions, AP reported.

Defense Minister Lubomir Metnar said the help meant for Afghan interpreters and their families includes their relocation, an offer of asylum and financial aid.

Metnar said the goal of the program is to ensure safe and decent living conditions for them after NATO troops pull out of Afghanistan, AP reported.

The government’s move came days after the Czech veterans, current service members, human rights organizations and others urged the government to help resettle the Afghans because of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, AP reported.

President Milos Zeman asked his government on Thursday to approve the program without any delay because of fears that Afghans who worked with the Czech military could be killed by the Taliban.

The Defense Ministry declined to provide further details about the program, which is classified in order to protect its recipients, AP reported.

The number of Afghans wasn’t given.

The last Czech service members pulled out from Afghanistan in June.

Since 2002, a total of 11,500 Czech soldiers were deployed in Afghanistan, AP reported.

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UN office attacked in Herat, at least one guard killed

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(Last Updated On: July 30, 2021)

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said Friday that its main compound in western Herat province was attacked by “anti-government elements,” killing at least guard and other officers injured.

In a statement issued on Friday, UNAMA condemned in the “strongest terms” today’s attack.

“The area around Herat where the compound is located witnessed fighting today between the Taliban and government forces,” the statement read. 

The UN added that it is urgently seeking to establish a full picture of the attack and for this purpose is in contact with the relevant parties.

“This attack against the United Nations is deplorable and we condemn it in the strongest terms,” said Deborah Lyons, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. 

“Our first thoughts are with the family of the officer slain and we wish a speedy recovery to those injured,” Lyons stated.

 According to the statement, no UN personnel was hurt in the incident, in which entrances were attacked by rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire.

“The perpetrators of this attack must be identified and brought to account,” said Lyons.

 “Attacks against civilian UN personnel and compounds are prohibited under international law, and may amount to war crimes,” the UN noted.

Immediately, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Sources, however, told Ariana News that at least six people – including two security guards of UNAMA, three policemen, and a member of the public uprising forces – were killed and 19 others were wounded in clashes with the Taliban militants in the Guzara, Anjel and Karokh districts at the outskirts of Herat city on Friday.

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