At least 11 human rights defenders and media workers were killed in targeted attacks in Afghanistan since the start of peace negotiations, says a new report released by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

“The period following the start of Afghanistan Peace Negotiations in September 2020 has witnessed a sharp and chilling number of killings of human rights defenders and media professionals in Afghanistan,” read the report.

According to the Un report, no fewer than 11 human rights defenders and media workers were killed in targeted attacks in Afghanistan from the 12 September 2020 start of peace negotiations through to 31 January 2021.
“The Afghan people need and deserve a flourishing civic space – a society where people can think, write and voice their views openly, without fear,” said Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “The voices of human rights defenders and the media are critical for any open and decent society. At a time when dialogue and an end to the conflict through talks and political settlement should be the focus, the voices from human rights and the media need to be heard more than ever before, instead they are being silenced,” said the envoy, who is also head of UNAMA.

The report records a total of 65 human rights defenders and media professionals killed in the period from 1 January 2018 – 31 January 2021, 32 from the human rights sector and 33 from the media. Of these, 11 (five human rights defenders and six media) were killed in the four-month period from 1 October 2020 – 31 January 2021 alone.
“Human rights and media space has contracted as a result, with many professionals exercising self-censorship in their work, quitting their jobs, and leaving their homes and communities with hopes it will improve their safety,” the report added.

The report underlines that all actors have an important role to play in preventing such killings and intimidation, promoting accountability and preventing impunity.


News Id: E17118