IFJ Accuses Afghan Parliament of Being “Out of Touch with Democracy”

The International Federation of Jouranlists (IFJ) today accused Afghan parliamentarians of being out of touch with democracy when they supported a death sentence passed on a journalist and condemned international human rights protests.

The upper house of the Afghan parliament was commenting on a decision issued last week by a religious Islamic court that convicted Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh, a journalism student and reporter for the daily newspaper Jahan-e Naw, of blasphemy and sentenced him to death.

“This statement by Afghan lawmakers is a shocking confirmation of intolerance and a lack of respect for free speech,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “It is worryingly out of touch with international standards of democracy.”

As well as endorsing the death sentence, the parliamentarians also criticised the human rights groups who have launched a public campaign to get the death sentenced reversed.

The IFJ has called on its member unions to join a campaign to urge Afghan President Hamid Karzai to overturn the death sentence against Kambakhsh. The IFJ believes the sentence handed down disregards Afghanistan’s constitution, which says that “freedom of expression shall be inviolable. Every Afghan shall have the right to express thoughts through speech, writing, illustrations as well as other means in accordance with provisions of this constitution.”

“While the Afghan government may not want the scrutiny from the international community, it is our job to put the pressure on President Karzai to ensure that Afghanistan abides by its own laws,” White said.

The IFJ is supporting local groups, including the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association, in their fight for justice for Kambakhsh.

For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide