VP Danesh Disputes Claims Of Impunity For Crimes Against Journalists

A week after more that 200 journalists published an open letter to President Ashraf Ghani asking him to look into the culture of impunity for crimes against media professionals, Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh said that “sufficient” research had not been done by the letter writers.

The Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) had recorded more than 1,000 cases of violence and threats against journalists since 2001, of which only six had received a final verdict. The AFJC, thus concluded that 95% of crimes against media professionals go unpunished.

During the Joint Committee of the Government and Media meeting on Tuesday, Danesh said that while preparing the letter, the journalists had not referred to the information and reports previously published by the committee on their investigations of violence against journalists.

Danesh said that since the committee’s establishment in 2017, “all cases of violence against journalists have been investigated since 2002” and there were not pending cases to address.

He said that the government is committed to ensuring the safety and security of journalists and media personnel.

At the meeting, a representative from the Ministry of Interior said that since 2002, there have been 119 cases of murder of journalists, nine of which are still under investigation, two cases occurred abroad, and other cases have been investigated.

He added that the perpetrators of 28 cases have been arrested and brought to the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), while 24 others have been killed. There were 55 journalists who were killed in suicide and bombing attacks.

Jamshid Rasouli, spokesperson for the AGO said that 69 cases had been brought before them so far, of which 31 were murders.

The representatives of the AFJC also said they did not agree with all the content of the open letter they had sent to the president and that it may have been prepared based on a “misunderstanding.”

They agreed that all cases of violence against journalists had been investigated.

Danesh thanked the country’s judicial institutions for following up and investigating cases of violence against journalists and said that they are pursuing threats and violence against journalists on a daily basis.

The participants also decided to form a joint technical committee consisting of representatives of the relevant government agencies, AFJC and other institutions, which will report to the Joint Government and Media Committee.

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