Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Afghanistan sentences journalist to death

I've not commented yet on the Manley report and follow-up, as I’m attending an event tonight where commission member Pamela Wallin will be discussing the report and her experience there, and I’d like to hear what she has to say before formulating my thoughts.

I have to tell you though, when I read about things like this it really makes me wonder what the heck we’re fighting for over there. As a journalist myself, I tend to be concerned about this kind of thing…

Afghanistan - Shock at death sentence passed on young journalist for blasphemy

, Jan. 23 /CNW Telbec/ - On the 22nd of January 2008, a court in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif passed the death sentence on a young journalist, Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, for alleged blasphemy. The trial was held behind closed doors and without any lawyer defending him. His brother, fellow journalist Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, told Reporters Without Borders: "I saw my brother leave the court. He was very anxious. All the family was, too."

"We are deeply shocked by this trial, carried out in haste and without any concern for the law or for free expression, which is protected by the constitution," Reporters Without Borders said. "Kambakhsh did not do anything to justify his being detained or being given this sentence. We appeal to President Hamid Karzai to intervene before it is too late."

At a news conference yesterday, Hafizullah Khaliqyar, the deputy provincial prosecutor in charge of the case, threatened to imprison all journalists who support Kambakhsh, adding that "Kambakhsh has confessed to the crime and must be punished."

Kambakhsh was supposedly arrested because of a controversial article commenting on verses in the Koran about women, although it has now been established that he was not the article's author. Rahimullah Samandar, the head of the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association, said he was in fact arrested because of articles written by his brother, Ibrahimi, criticising the provincial authorities.

A reporter for the newspaper Jahan-e Naw ("The New World") and a journalism student at Balkh university, Kambakhsh, 23, was arrested on 27 October.

The U.S. State department, at least, has “expressed concern” about the case, as has the UN, the Germans and the French. I’ve not aware of any comment from the Canadian government. Neither is Bill Doskoch.

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1 comment:

Gayle said...

I also recall that the Canadian government announced an aid package a while ago that included funding to train prosecutors, but none to train defence lawyers. (Which is fairly typical of international aid).