By Cecilia Ologunagba
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, says there is need to ensure freedom of expression and safety of journalists in Afghanistan.
This she said, should be in accordance with and respect for international norms and human rights obligations.
Azoulay said access to reliable information and open public debate, facilitated by free and independent media, was crucial for Afghans to achieve the peaceful future they deserved.
“No-one should be afraid to say what they think at this critical juncture and the safety of all journalists, including women, must especially be guaranteed,” the director-general said in a statement.
According to her, UNESCO remains committed to continuing to support in any way possible, freedom of expression and access to information for all Afghans.
In recent decades, UNESCO has been proud to participate in the flourishing of a vibrant and diverse professional media sector in Afghanistan, which continued to show tremendous dedication to serving the public, even in the face of violence and threats.
At least, seven journalists, four of them women, had been killed in the line of work so far in 2021 alone, according to UNESCO data.
UNESCO urged that the important progress made, should not be undone and in particular, that women journalists must be able to continue their crucial work.
The organisation noted recent statements that no threats or reprisals would be carried out against journalists and called for this to be respected and monitored closely, nationwide.
UNESCO’s work over the past 20 years, had included assisting in the formulation of new legislative frameworks, contributing to the development of community media, improving journalism education, promoting gender-sensitive reporting, as well as reinforcing educational broadcasting.
Most recently, the organisation had been supporting fact-checking networks and media outlets to professionally verify and report on the COVID-19 crisis. (NAN)