Statement of Tom Koenigs, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan on the murder of Ajmal Naqshbandi

I have today learnt of the murder of the Afghan journalist Ajmal Naqshbandi who was abducted by Taliban extremists on March 5 in Helmand province. I condemn this senseless murder unreservedly and call on the authorities to bring those responsible to justice.  The perpetrators of this crime have shown absolute indifference to the value of human life by ignoring the calls of family, journalists and Afghans who with one voice called for his safe return.  The rights of journalists to go about their work, free from interference or harm, should be recognised and respected by all. Ajmal Naqshbandi represented what is best in today’s Afghanistan — a story that has brought the international community together as never before.  Today we are united by grief for a man who was playing a vital role in highlighting the concerns and challenges of the Afghan people as well as a firm resolve to see justice done and further such crimes prevented.  At this difficult time, our thoughts remain with the family, friends and colleagues of Ajmal Naqshbandi as well as with all those in this country who value freedom of expression and human rights.