Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
Afghanistan 24 July 2008

Six months after being sentenced to death, journalist still waits to know his fate

Reporters Without Borders today called for the release of Afghan journalist Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, aged 23, of the magazine Jahan-e Naw (The New World), who was sentenced to death for “blasphemy” six months ago.

Perwiz Kambakhsh’s appeal hearing has been adjourned since 15 June because of the absence of witnesses. Students and professors from the Mazar-i-Sharif University were due to give evidence but they have not yet been official summoned to Kabul.

“We cannot under why the justice system does not want to release this young journalist, despite proof of his innocence. It is essential that the appeal court speeds up his trial”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“The medical examiner who saw him has confirmed that he was tortured by the security forces and the irregularities in the first trial constitute sufficient reasons to justify releasing him after already spending nine months in prison”, it added.

Perwiz Kambakhsh’s brother, the journalist Yaqub Ibrahimi, explained that the appeal is progressing very slowly, despite the campaign by Afghan colleagues and fellow citizens. “We have had to send a letter ourselves asking the students and professors who are witnesses to come so they can appear before the court,” he said.

Hundreds of Afghan journalists and writers demonstrated in 15 provinces of the country on 8 July calling for the release of Perwiz Kambakhsh.

He was sentenced to death for blasphemy by the lower court in Mazar-i-Sharif on 22 January 2008 at a summary trial held behind closed doors. Around a score of witnesses, contacted by the journalist’s family, declined to give evidence for fear of reprisals against them. He has been held in custody since 27 October 2007.

Reporters Without Borders also pointed out that Jawed Ahmad, Afghan contributor to the Canadian television channel CTV, has been held without trial by the US Army since 2 November 2007, on the Bagram air base, north of Kabul, accused of being an “enemy combatant” because of his alleged contacts with the Taliban.




In this country
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
21 April - Afghanistan
Emroz TV presenter freed on bail after being held because of complaint by Iran
24 March - Afghanistan
Authorities arrest two TV presenters in Kabul
10 March - Afghanistan
Journalist working with Canadian media, released five months ago by US military, gunned down in Kandahar
9 March - Afghanistan
Call for presidential pardon after supreme court upholds Perwiz Kambakhsh’s 20-year jail sentence for "blasphemy"

in the annual report
Afghanistan - Annual report 2008
Afghanistan - Annual report 2007
Afghanistan - Annual report 2006

reports
4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election
archives

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised
2 June - China
All references to Tiananmen Square massacre closely censored for 20 years