UN urges Taliban to release information about missing journalists

The UN is urging the Taliban to publically explain why they detained these reporters, as concerns about restrictions on media & free expression increase.

Members of Taliban forces ride on a pick-up truck mounted with a weapon in Kabul, Afghanistan, October 3, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/JORGE SILVA)
Members of Taliban forces ride on a pick-up truck mounted with a weapon in Kabul, Afghanistan, October 3, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/JORGE SILVA)

The United Nation's mission to Afghanistan on Tuesday called on the Taliban administration to release details on the detention of two Afghan journalists who disappeared the previous day.

A Taliban administration spokesman, Bilal Karimi, said it was investigating the men's abduction and denied they had been arrested.

"Mounting concern about restrictions on media & free expression. UN urges Taliban to make public why they detained these...reporters & to respect Afghan's rights," said the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (in a Tweet).

 A Taliban fighter reacts to the photographer at a market in Kabul, Afghanistan, October 15, 2021.  (credit: REUTERS/ZOHRA BENSEMRA) A Taliban fighter reacts to the photographer at a market in Kabul, Afghanistan, October 15, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/ZOHRA BENSEMRA)

Ali Asghari, news manager at local broadcaster Ariana News, said that on Monday afternoon two of its journalists were taken, but the identity of the abductors was not clear.

Fears for the safety of vocal opponents of the Taliban and prominent women have risen since the Islamist group took over the country in August as foreign forces withdrew. Many civil society and women's rights activists fled the country.

Also on Tuesday, the UN's human rights spokesperson gave a briefing in Geneva expressing major concern over the disappearance of six people last month in connection with women's rights protests.

"We are gravely concerned for their well-being and safety," said UN human rights spokesperson Ravina Shamdasan, adding there were other reports of other house searches of activists.

"These reports have also brought into focus what appears to be a pattern of arbitrary arrests and detentions."

Another Taliban administration spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid rejected the UN human rights spokeswoman's assessment, saying it was investigating the situation involving the abducted women.

The Taliban says they have an amnesty for any previous opponents, including Afghan military members, and that they respect women's rights in line with Islamic law and customs, but many human rights advocates and foreign diplomats remain skeptical.