Killing the Messengers

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The family of a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist killed during the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last year petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) Tuesday to bring the Islamist group up on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the Washington Post reported.

Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui was killed on July 16, a month before the Taliban entered Kabul as foreign troops withdrew from Afghanistan.

The petition cites reports from various Indian and international outlets claiming that Siddiqui was alive when the Taliban captured him. He was later executed and his body mutilated, according to the reports.

His family says that Siddiqui was subjected “to barbaric levels of torture and mutilation while in their custody.” The Taliban, however, denied that his body was mutilated in their custody.

Observers said the plea is likely to gain the attention of the ICC, whose investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan has stalled since it authorized a probe in March 2020.

Following the Taliban takeover, the court’s prosecutor urged the ICC to resume the probe, citing the “the gravity, scale and continuing nature of alleged crimes by the Taliban and the Islamic State.”

The petition also comes as journalists are emphasizing the dangers that reporters face in covering conflicts and the difficulties of seeking accountability for their deaths. In recent weeks, at least five journalists – two American reporters, three Ukrainian journalists and a British cameraman, have been killed covering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, more than 500 journalists have been slain over the past decade, 31in Afghanistan.

Officials of Afghanistan’s deposed civilian government told the Post in 2020 that the Taliban were responsible for the majority of the targeted killings of journalists.

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