On 12 July 2021, Communications were submitted to both the International Criminal Court and the United Nations on behalf of the family of Afghan journalist and TV presenter, Yama Siawash who was targetted and killed in Afghanistan in November 2020. Haydee Dijkstal of 33 Bedford Row was instructed as international counsel by the family of Yama Siawash to submit the Communications.
Before the International Criminal Court, an Article 15 Communication was submitted to the Office of the Prosecutor requesting that the killing of Yama Siawash is viewed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against members of the media in Afghanistan during the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan which constitutes crimes against humanity and war crimes. In providing information to the ICC Prosecutor, it was requested that the Prosecutor consider the crimes under the Rome Statute relevant to the attack as part of its on-going investigation into the situation in Afghanistan for prosecution.
Yama Siawash attack and killing was also raised with the ‘UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression,’ the ‘UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions’ and the ‘UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders’ requesting that the Special Rapporteurs take steps to gather and seek information and address the human rights violations associated with Yama Siawash’s killing, and the systematic pattern in which journalists are threatened, targeted and killed in Afghanistan.
Yama Siawash was well-known in Afghanistan for his work reporting on issues of politics and governance in Afghanistan, and in particular addressing controversial topics which confronted the Government’s policies and officials in a manner which challenged the national dialogue on issues of public importance. Yama’s work resulted in on-going threats and pressure against him and on 7 November 2020 Yama was killed by the remote detonation of military grade RDX explosives embedded within the vehicle sent to pick up shortly after he entered the vehicle.