65 media, rights workers killed in Afghanistan, says UN

UN Human Rights Council meets as U.S. ends boycott of divided body

The UN on Monday said at least 65 media professionals and human rights activists were killed in a series of targeted killings across Afghanistan over the past three years.

A UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) report, which covers the period between Jan. 1, 2018, and Jan. 21, 2021, 32 of the victims were human rights defenders and 33 others were media professionals.

The report also found that from the beginning of the intra-Afghan talks to settle the ongoing war politically on Sept. 12, 2020, until January 2021, the number of targeted killings increased, with 11 media workers and right activists killed in that period.

Such attacks, according to the organisation, have led many media professionals to self-censor, quit their jobs, or even leave the country in the pursuit of safety for themselves and their families.

“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 Deborah Lyons, the secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan.

The report, however, did not blame the Taliban specifically.

The Afghan government has always accused the group of silencing the voices of civil society.

The report asked the Afghan government to launch an effective national protection mechanism for the safety of these civil activists.

UNAMA has also asked non-state actors and the Taliban militants in particular, to investigate any attacks they were accused of carrying out.

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