Lakhdar Brahimi, the senior United Nations official in Afghanistan, today called for the immediate release of two journalists arrested there last week.
A spokesman for Mr. Brahimi told the press in Kabul that the appeal was being issued "both on procedural grounds – to the extent that continued detention of the two journalists does not serve the investigation undertaken by the authorities – and on substantive grounds."
Manoel de Almeida e Silva also said the detention of the reporters "on the basis of their opinion" underscores the need to promote an environment in Afghanistan that is conducive to freedom of the press.
Citing the current case as well as other incidents of threats and intimidation against journalists recorded in recent month, the spokesman called for "a thorough and time-bound review of the legal system in order to promote freedom of expression, protect the rights of journalists and guarantee their freedom to do their work in safety, including publishing critical reports and opinions."
His call echoed the recommendations of Afghanistan's 2002 International Seminar on Promoting Independent and Pluralistic Media in Afghanistan.