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UN and rights bodies condemn murder of two German journalists

The United Nations (UN), Afghanistan’s top media watchdog and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) on Monday condemned the killings of two German journalists and have called on the government to take strict measures to maintain the safety of reporters.

Karen Fischer, 30, and Christian Struwe, 38, were on their way to the northern province of Bamiyan to research a documentary for the German state-owned Deutsche Welle broadcast organisation when they were killed by unidentified gunmen in the Tala Wa Barfak district of Baghlan province, according to officials from the interior ministry.

“This incident is tragic and underlines the danger that many brave journalists face in highlighting the concerns and day-to-day realities of the Afghan people,” said Aleem Siddique, spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Officials from Afghanistan’s top media watchdog have also condemned the attack and have expressed grave concerns on the safety of journalists in Afghanistan.

“This outrageous incident illustrates that the enemies of democracy and freedom of expression are still very powerful and can kill journalists everywhere,” Rahimullah Samander, President of the Afghanistan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA), told IRIN in Kabul.

“The government and the international community should take action to ensure the safety of those who simply work for establishing democracy, civil society and to reflect the voices of the war-torn nation of Afghanistan,” Samander maintained.

The AIHRC also expressed grave concerns on the deteriorating security situation.

“The AIHRC is highly concerned about the increasing insecurity and attacks on national and international aid workers and journalists,” AIHRC spokesman Ahmad Nader Nadery said.

“[We condemn] such heinous killing of journalists and we hope the government is taking the necessary measures to bring the perpetrators of this terrorist act to justice,” Nadery asserted.

Meanwhile, officials at the interior ministry said that a police investigation was ongoing and had already made considerable progress.

The German government has some 2,700 soldiers serving in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the north to boost security, development and reconstruction in the war-ravaged country recovering from nearly three decades of brutal civil war and internal strife.

Security has deteriorated since the hard-line Taliban were toppled by a US-led invasion in 2001, a year when seven foreign journalists were killed.

On 22 July, Afghan cameraman Abdul Qodus, 25, working for private TV channel Ariana, was killed in a second suicide attack which took place while he was filming the aftermath of the suicide bomb attack that killed two Canadian soldiers and many civilians in Kandahar city.

The Afghan media watchdog has registered some 40 cases of violence against journalists over the past nine months of the year alone, including killing, beating and imprisonments. In 2004, there were only 15 cases of violence, while in 2005 those cases reached 30 across the country.

AIJA has warned that freedom of expression is under threat from the regional warlords, some governmental authorities and even the Taliban militants.

“Free media has gained significant trust among the people and has become the most significant source for reflecting the views and pains of communities, while also bridging the gap between government and local communities. But when we see such brutal attacks it means we are losing all these achievements,” Samander asserted.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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