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  • Leena M.G Osman

Journalists Under Threat : Three Female Journalists Violently Killed in Afghanistan

On the 2nd of March, three journalists were shot dead in the city of Jalalabad. According to the head of the local broadcaster Enikas TV, the three women were recent high school graduates between the ages of 18 and 20 who worked for the station's dubbing department.

Peace negotiations between the United States and the Taliban aimed at ending two decades of Afghan war indirectly ignited a wave of violent acts targeting journalists and civil society workers. Within that context, two journalists - Elyas Dayee and Yama Siawash - were killed in two seperate bomb explosions in November 2020. Similarly, gunmen attacked Kabul University in the same month, killing over a dozen people, including students.

In December 2020, female journalist Malalai Maiwand was killed in Jalalabad on her way to the office, facing a similar fate as her mother, an activist for women's rights who was also killed five years earlier by unknown gunmen.

Journalists Under Threat :

The war, corruption and appalling deterioration of law and order has propelled Afghanistan to becoming one of the most murderous countries for journalists and media workers. According to available data collected by the United Nations, a minimum of 65 media professionals and human rights activists have been killed since 2018.

Although there is an clear casual link between violent conflict and an increase in the murder of journalists, there is no single factor nor explanation to why journalists are the principle targets. The murdering of journalists however has presented itself as an ideal method of silencing those deemed as “troublesome”.

Impunity and Implementation deficits

Multiple human rights instruments have been adopted globally, both at the UN and regional level, to ensure the respect of treaty obligations, including texts, declarations, decisions, resolutions and conventions related to human rights and the safety of journalists.

On 12 November 1997, UNESCO's General Conference, at its 29th session, adopted the Resolution 29 "Condemnation of Violence against Journalists" condemning assassination and any physical violence against journalists as a crime against society, in acknowledgement that this suppression of freedom of expression consequently curtails the other rights and freedoms set forth in international human rights instruments.

Nevertheless, the issue of impunity and related obstacles to ensuring the total protection of journalists and media professionals are results of deficits in the implementation of mentioned treaties by States.

It must be stressed that the primary responsibility falls on Governments to intensity all efforts to ensure the accomplishment of their duty of preventing, investigating and punishing those who account for such crimes.


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