IFJ Calls for Dialogue after ISAF Admission in Journalist’s Death

The International Federation of

Journalists (IFJ) and affiliate the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association

(AIJA) note the official media release from the International Security

Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan

admitting that one of its soldiers, engaged in active combat operations, was responsible

for the killing of journalist Ahmad Omaid Khpalwak.

 

According to the ISAF statement,

Khpalwak, a journalist with the BBC Afghanistan service and the Pahjwok Afghan

News agency, was shot dead during combat between U.S.

army troops and armed insurgents who breached the compound of the state-owned

Radio Television Afghanistan

in Tarin Khot, Uruzgan province on July 28. Though he was unarmed, Khpalwak was

assessed by a soldier to be firing at ISAF forces. Some of his movements were

also read as suggesting intent to set off a suicide bomb.

 

“Khpalwak’s killing highlights the

dangers that journalists and civilians face when trapped in the crossfire

between ISAF soldiers and armed Afghan insurgents,” IFJ

Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

 

“The IFJ appreciates the

thoroughness with which this incident was probed under applicable military law

by ISAF and the spirit of candour in which it has been made public.”

 

The IFJ and partner organizations of

the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) call for a broad-ranging

discussion between journalists’ unions, media managements and the security

agencies – both under coalition and Afghan government command – to ensure that

journalists in situations such as this are afforded adequate protection.

 

The IFJ also urges ISAF and the

Afghan government to suitably compensate the immediate family of Khpalwak for

his tragic death.

 

“The results of all investigations

into the killing of journalists in earlier such encounters should now be made

public as part of a broader discussion,” Park said.

 

“This would apply notably, though

not exclusively, to the killing of Sultan

Mohammad Munadi in September 2009, in a botched attempt to rescue a news

crew from the New York Times he was working with, after it had been

taken captive in Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan.”

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

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IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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