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Media victories in Afghanistan hard-won: UN envoy

Media victories in Afghanistan hard-won: UN envoy

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May 02, 2017 - 21:00

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Afghanistaninfo-icon’s media professionals, who continue to work against immense challenges, are to be commended for their courage and determination, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan said on Tuesday.

“Freedom of speech, particularly the freedom of press, is what I consider to be one of the most important featuresinfo-icon in a mature, open societyinfo-icon,” Tadamichi Yamamoto told an event marking Worldinfo-icon Press Freedom Day.

Yamamoto, who joined Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and other Afghan officials in commending the work of media professionals, said many victories of media in Afghanistan had been hard won.

Also head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the UN envoy remarked: “In the world rankings of press openness and freedom, Afghanistan, a nation embroiled in conflict, has managed to hold its place in world press freedom rankings even as fighting takes a heavy toll on journalists.”

He said Afghanistan’s media professionals, womeninfo-icon and men, were to be commended and celebrated for their courage and determination. “Be assured that the UN and international community are immensely grateful for your work,” he said.

Yamamoto noted progress in Afghanistan as some traditional democracies saw media freedoms eroding. “In the region,” he said, “Afghanistan stands out as a leader in openness and creativity.”

The Afghans have now access to an estimated 70 TV stations and 175 radio stations, as well as a vibrant and growing social media scene. However, the UN official noted, the challenges of working in a conflict zone are “immense,” as reporters put themselves at great risk.

“Journalists under attack in conflict zones can only perform effectively if they have adequate access and adequate protection,” he stressed. “This need inspired the UN to formulate its ‘Plan of Action: the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity’ in 2012 to uphold the fundamental right of freedom of expression by working toward the creation of a free and safe environmentinfo-icon for journalists.”

The UN envoy went on to note that the opponents of democracy, gender equality and free expression are ever-present, and so a reporter or writer must stand guard and remain vigilant.

“The past solar yearinfo-icon was one of the most violent years for journalists and media staff in the last two decades,” he said, citing one Afghan media organization that described the increase in violence against journalists as “staggering.”

Most attacks against journalists in Afghanistan occur on the front lines of combat, but assaults have also taken place in Kabul and in other major cities in the country.

“It is appropriate to acknowledge each and every case that hampers the work and livelihood of Afghanistan’s brave press corps,” said Yamamoto.

In closing, the UN envoy said that without freedom of the press, an informed, active and engaged citizenry is impossible,

pr/ma

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