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A Flawed Justice System in Afghanistan

The blasphemy case against Afghan journalist Parwiz Kambakhsh

by CISDA – Coordinamento Italiano Sostegno Donne Afghane, 23 October 2008

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The outcomes of the “judicial reform programme” run by the Italian government in Afghanistan:
- The case of journalist Parwiz Kambakhsh

Last October 2007 the criminals who are sitting in the Afghan government put in jail young journalist Parwiz Kambakhsh, in Balhk province (Northern Afghanistan). Parwiz was charged with blasphemy for having circulated an article downloaded from the Internet. This article focused on the women’s rights in Islamic countries.

Parwiz was sentenced to death by the obscurantist Council of the Elders from Balkh province. After that, Parwiz spent a year in jail waiting for the court of appeal to attend his sentence. Now, his sentence to death has been turned into ten years’ imprisonment. His lawyers want to file an appeal to the Supreme Court, but Parwiz’s conviction is likely to be upheld, if there is no mobilization from the international community supporting Parwiz.

The defamatory accusations against Parwiz by the Afghan religious courts show that the freedom of speech is still totally denied in Afghanistan seven years after the US invasion, and that no justice is actually enforced.

A similar case was that of brave journalist Naseer Fayyaz, who dared to speak up against the Aghan government and was therefore threatened to death by well known criminals such as Ismail Khan and Qasim Fahim, who are currently holding higher government offices. Moreover, he has been prosecuted by the Afghan intelligence (KHAD) so that he had to leave his country.

Today the law of the strongest is the only law ruling in Afghanistan. Whoever dares to oppose the fundamentalists in power and the religious authorities is punished with harsh sentences, threatened, pushed to leave the country, killed, prosecuted by the secret intelligence.

Italy right wing government (2005-2006) set up a very expensive programme to help rebuild the judicial system in Afghanistan, following the 2001 Bonn conference and the 2006 London Conference on Afghanistan. This programme worth about 50 million euro, paid by the Italian taxpayers, involved hundreds of Italian law experts.

The ridiculous sentence against Parwiz Kambakhsh shows that the justice programme designed and run by the Italian government has completely failed. This failure looks even worse if we consider the huge amount of money spent. In addition, this is also a defeat for Karzai and for Western governments that have dressed some well-known criminals with jacket and tie, named them "democratic" and put them in power.

We call for international support to Parwiz Kambakhsh by all possible means. Particularly, we are addressing all truly democratic people to speak up and take action. We count on those people who do not believe that there are two justices: one first-class justice for the Westerns, and one second-class justice for the others. We struggle for freedom for Parwiz Kambakhsh, and we ask for freedom of speech to all Afghan journalists and to the democratic people of Afghanistan.

CISDA – Coordinamento Italiano Sostegno Donne Afghane
October 22nd, 2008