The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Deborah Lyons has emphasized on UN’s position regarding the media freedom in Afghanistan.
On the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day, the UNAMA head in a press release stated that all parties in any peace negotiations must uphold all fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, which is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
She stressed that nothing should be allowed to threaten the critical advances in press freedoms in Afghanistan.
“Equally important, hate speech must not be confused with free speech. Hate speech – including incitement to violence and other forms of this poisonous activity – cannot be allowed to turn Afghan against Afghan, to harm peace and reconciliation efforts, or to damage sensitive political processes. Stigma, xenophobia, racism and all forms of discrimination are an affront to universal human values and rights,” the press release reads.
“As COVID-19 threatens life in Afghanistan and around the world, the importance of the media providing accurate and fact-based information cannot be overstated. Harmful health advice has proliferated, with falsehoods filling the airwaves and conspiracy theories infecting the Internet. I salute the journalists who are fact-checking misleading stories, as the infection of misinformation puts lives at risk,” the press release said.
Deborah Lyons noted that the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day — Journalism Without Fear or Favour — is a call to secure independent journalism.
“The call is to everyone, including governments, civil society, academia and youth, to build on successes in professional journalism as the foundation for media providing the public with reliable facts, inclusive views and a diversity of cultural expressions,” the press release asserted.
“The United Nations has a commitment to defend Afghanistan’s free press, and we will do all in our power to support free media so all journalists — Afghan media and foreign correspondents alike — can operate without fear of being harassed, intimidated or attacked, and so the media can operate safely in an environment where crimes against them will be addressed swiftly and effectively,” it added.