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PRESS FREEDOM VITAL FOR AFGHAN LIBERTY AND JUSTICE -

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan

Saturday 3 May 2008

All the versions of this article: [English] [فارسى]

Kabul, 3 May 2008 – The top United Nations human rights official in
Afghanistan today called for respect of press freedom as journalists around
the world marked press freedom day.

Norah Niland, Chief Human Rights Officer for the United Nations Mission in
Afghanistan (UNAMA) underlined the importance of press freedom as
Afghanistan prepares for a fresh round of presidential and parliamentary
elections next year.

“In the run-up to Afghanistan’s elections in 2009 and 2010 press freedom will
be more vital than ever, people can only make informed decisions about the
political future of their country if they are empowered with balanced objective
information. The media has a crucial role to play in this respect.” said Norah
Niland, head of UNAMA’s Human Rights unit.

Whilst there has been an impressive growth in the availability of information,
with over 400 media institutions active in the country, Afghanistan has seen
an increase in attacks against journalists. “The media have the right to work
freely without threat or intimidation from any party, and the Afghan people
have a right to receive unbiased objective information on what is happening in
their own country,” said Ms. Niland.

This years’ World Press Freedom Day is dedicated to the themes of
empowerment and access to information. In a message from the Director-
General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO), Koïchiro Matsuura, underlined that press freedom
and access to information feed into the wider development objective of
empowering people by giving them the information that can help them gain
control over their own lives. This empowerment supports participatory
democracy by giving citizens the capacity to engage in public debate and to
hold governments and others accountable.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right recognized in Article 19
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose 60th anniversary is
celebrated this year.

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