Today we join Afghanistan in celebrating World Press Freedom Day. Afghanistan’s vibrant media sector is one of the country’s greatest success stories of the last two decades.
A free and independent media and a strong media sector is an essential part of an inclusive and representative Afghanistan. Free, safe and independent journalists and media organisations are necessary to help tackle corruption and allow people to participate meaningfully in democracy with access to accurate and trustworthy information. The media is integral to building public support, creating a shared understanding and support for peace and any future political settlement to the conflict, holding to account those who would oppose peace for their own narrow political ends.
As Afghanistan’s international friends and partners, we reaffirm our commitment to stand by its journalists and the media sector. We continue to support Afghan journalists, to stand up for their rights, and to oppose undue restrictions on their work.
More still must be done. The campaign of violence against journalists and media professionals must end. Journalists must be protected, and those who commit acts of violence and murder against workers in the sector must be brought to justice. We recognise that female journalists and media professionals are particularly at risk. The impunity for such crimes remains a serious challenge and creates a chilling environment, limiting the media sector’s ability to operate freely.
Afghanistan’s free and independent media sector has been hard won. Many Afghans have sacrificed their time, their energy, their money and, for some, their lives to build this crucial public good. We pledge our continued support in defence of a free and independent Afghan media. It must be defended.