28 July 2023 – UN experts* today voiced their concern at disinformation by a media outlet concerning a Human Rights Council event about women’s and girls’ rights in Afghanistan in June. They issued the following statement:

“We are dismayed that a media outlet named Afghanistan International has chosen to misuse an important discussion on Afghan women’s and girls’ rights at the Human Rights Council in June to launch a smear campaign against an invited Afghan woman speaker and a UN staff member.

Such events should be a safe space for the expression of a broad range of views. While criticism of speakers for positions they take on human rights issues is acceptable, all participants should be free from intimidation, abuse, threats, or other forms of retaliation. Personalized attacks, intrusions of privacy, and the spreading of gendered disinformation can have severe consequences for the safety and security of affected individuals and gravely damage their reputations.

The relevant mandate holders and senior UN staff, not including the staff member identified, coordinated in selecting and inviting speakers for this event according to an established procedure, prioritising a plurality of voices and views relevant to the topic.

We call for a concerted focus on restoring and protecting the human rights of women and girls in Afghanistan, including respecting a wide range of views, particularly those held and expressed by Afghan women.”

*The experts: Richard BennettSpecial Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in AfghanistanDorothy Estrada Tanck (Chair), Ivana Radačić (Vice-Chair), Elizabeth Broderick, Meskerem Geset Techane and Melissa Upreti, Working Group on discrimination against women and girlsReem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences; Irene KhanSpecial Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expressionMary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders