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A group of UN human rights experts* today called on all States to provide urgent protection to Afghan journalists and media workers who fear for their lives and are seeking safety abroad.

“Journalists and media workers, in particular women, are facing heightened risks since the Taliban’s political takeover of Afghanistan,” the experts said.

“All governments must take strong and swift action to protect Afghan journalists who face persecution, including by expediting visas, assisting with evacuation and keeping their borders open for those who wish to leave Afghanistan.”

Recalling the various resolutions on the safety of journalists adopted by the Human Rights Council in recent years, the UN experts called on the Council to uphold its own commitment and do more to address the growing threat to the safety of journalists in the country.

“Reports of targeted killings of journalists and their family members, home raids, threats and intimidation in areas controlled by the Taliban have sharply increased in recent months. This is taking place in a context where Afghanistan is already considered one of the most dangerous countries for journalists,” the experts said.

“The Council should consider setting up an investigative and monitoring mechanism for accountability for all human rights violations that have been taking place, including attacks, reprisals and violence against journalists and media workers. Accountability for human rights violations is critical not only for individual justice but also the prevention of future violations.”

Emphasizing the crucial prevention role of the Human Rights Council, they called on the Council and all States to do their utmost to preserve the hard-won gains for media freedom, including for women journalists and media workers. “Last week’s Council resolution on human rights in Afghanistan fails to address the specific risks faced by journalists and human rights defenders in the country,” they said.

“We are deeply worried about the threats and systematic human rights violations faced by female journalists, as they may be targeted for working in the media or simply being a woman in public life,” the UN experts added.

“The safety of journalists, women and men alike, human rights defenders and gender equality activists must be a key consideration of their engagement on the human rights situation in Afghanistan. It is imperative for all States to stand firmly with the people of Afghanistan.”

The experts: Ms. Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression; Fionnuala Ní Aoláin,Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorismClément Voule , Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; and the. Working Group on discrimination against women : Ms. Melissa Upreti (Chair), Ms. Dorothy Estrada-Tanck (Vice Chair), Ms. Elizabeth Broderick, Ms. Ivana Radačić, and Ms. Meskerem Geset Techane.

The Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.