International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) deplores the denial of a fair
trial for Afghan journalist Syed Pervez Kambakhsh, whose 20-year jail sentence on
blasphemy charges was confirmed by an appeals court in Afghanistan
without the defendant or his lawyer being informed.
Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA), an IFJ affiliate, reports that
Kambakhsh’s lawyer, Mohamad Afzal Nuristani, went to the Supreme Court of
Afghanistan in Kabul
on March 8 to deliver some material related to Kambakhsh’s case.
then reportedly informed by court authorities that the decision on the case had
been rendered by the court a month previously.
circumstances in which the court arrived at its decision remain unclear.
However, the conviction of the journalist was decided without a new hearing,
following summary hearings at the trial court which had sentenced Kambakhsh to
death in January 2008 and the subsequent appeals court which commuted the
sentence to 20 years’ jail.
the journalist nor his lawyer were informed of a decision in February 2009 to
confirm the appeal court’s sentence of 20 years.
is shocked at the manner in which the Supreme Court of Afghanistan has made its
decision. Due process has been denied to Syed Pervez Kambakhsh at every stage
of the court process,” IFJ Asia-Pacific
Director Jacqueline Park said.
joins the AIJA in demanding the intervention of Afghanistan’s Chief Justice, Abdul
Salam Azeemi, and President Hamid Karzai in this case.
a reporter for the Jahan-e-Naw weekly
and a journalism student at Balkh University in the northern Afghan town of Mazar-e-Sharief, was
arrested in October 2007 on charges of blasphemy. He was accused of downloading
an internet article on women’s rights within Islam and distributing it among
2008, a trial court in Mazar-e-Sharief sentenced him to death after a summary
October, an appeals court in Kabul
confirmed the conviction but commuted the sentence to 20 years in prison.
our full support to Kambaksh’s defence team and the AIJA in their efforts to
appeal the latest ruling by the Supreme Court,” Park said. “This case
represents a key test for the Afghan judiciary and Afghanistan’s elected government at
a key juncture in the country’s transition to democracy.”
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries