UN denounces attacks on Afghan journalists and human rights activists
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UN denounces attacks on Afghan journalists and human rights activists

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released a report Monday denouncing attacks on Afghan journalists, human rights activists and media workers.

In September, peace negotiations began between Afghan officials and the Taliban to end the ongoing war in Afghanistan. In November, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called for a ceasefire in Afghanistan and for changes to improve conditions and rebuild the country.

According to the UNAMA report released Monday, 65 journalists, media professionals and human rights defenders were killed in Afghanistan between January 1, 2018, and January 31, 2021. Of the 65, 11 have been killed since the start of peace negotiations on September 12, 2020, through January 31, 2021. These killings have had a “chilling” impact on society, including the departure of many human rights defenders, journalists, and media workers, and which the report states diminishes “public confidence and hope in efforts towards peace.”

In the past, organized armed groups used improvised explosive devices in attacks that caused incidental individual deaths. The report noted a new pattern of attacks, reporting that recent attacks have consisted of “intentional, premeditated and deliberate targeting of individuals” by anonymous perpetrators.

UNAMA called on non-state actors to stop all killings. The report called for independent, impartial, thorough, and transparent investigations into the killings. Prosecutions of suspected perpetrators should follow due process and fair trial standards. UNAMA recommended that the Afghanistan government put an adequate preventative framework into place, and that the government ensures that human rights defenders, journalists, and media workers can exercise their rights.