Slain journalist Danish Siddiqui’s parents file complaint against Taliban before International Criminal Court

Reuters journalist Danish Siddiqui poses for a photo in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 8, 2021. | Photo Courtesy: Reuters/Mohammad Ismail

Siddique’s parents have demanded punishment against culprits for torturing and killing him while he was on an assignment in Afghanistan.

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NEW DELHI — The Pulitzer prize-winning slain photojournalist Danish Siddiqui’s parents Akhtar Siddiqui and Shahida Akhtar have filed a complaint against the Taliban, including its six leaders and high-level commanders, before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate his killing and bring those responsible to justice. 

The complaint was filed through Avi Singh at Cicero Chambers, a lawyer with extensive experience in international criminal law.

On July 16, 2021, Reuters photojournalist Danish Siddiqui was embedded with the Afghan Special Forces in Spin Boldak where he was injured in an attack by the Taliban while covering the conflict.. 

According to reports, Siddiqui was taken to a mosque, traditionally a place of refuge, for medical treatment. Talibal attacked the mosque, took Siddiqui into custody, tortured and murdered him.

Reports also said that he was attacked by the Red Unit of the Taliban. After his killing, his body was mutilated, including being run over by a heavy vehicle in public. His body revealed marks of brutal torture and 12 bullet entry and exit points. 

“Danish, our loving son, was murdered by the Taliban for simply carrying out his journalistic duties,” said Danish Siddiqui’s mother, Shahida Akhtar at a press conference on Tuesday, March 22. “He was subjected to barbaric levels of torture and mutilation while in their custody. Danish always stood for honesty and integrity in his work. He always showcased the pain and suffering of the people. He was brave and courageous all along.”

“No crime should go unpunished,” said Singh, the lawyer representing Siddiqui’s family. “The Taliban targeted and killed Danish because he was a journalist and an Indian. That is an international crime”. 

“In the absence of rule of law in Afghanistan, the ICC has jurisdiction to investigate and try the perpetrators of Danish’s murder. As the Taliban strives for international legitimacy, it must face accountability for its past actions,” Singh said.

The killing of Danish Siddiqui was not an isolated case. The Taliban’s military code of conduct, published as the Layha, has a policy of attacking civilians, including journalists. 

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has documented over 70,000 civilian casualties attributed to the Taliban, according to a statement by Siddiqui’s family. 

“As parents, we feel emotionally and morally obliged to take this action,” Prof. Akhtar Siddiqui, Danish Siddiqui’s father said. 

The International Criminal Court has been engaged in an ongoing investigation on international crimes, including crimes against humanity and war crimes, in Afghanistan, over which it has jurisdiction after Afghanistan’s government acceded to the Rome Statute.