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ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AFGHANISTAN: Afghanistan: Prisoner of Conscience sentenced to death for downloading and distributing materials from the internet

29 Jan 2008
Region: ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AFGHANISTAN
Topic: Abolition of the Death Penalty
Amnesty International condemns the decision to sentence to death journalist Perwiz Kambakhsh for downloading and distributing written materials that examined the role of women in the Islamic faith.
"Amnesty International is particularly concerned that Perwiz Kambakhsh, a prisoner of conscience, has been sentenced for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. Perwiz also had no access to a lawyer and his trial was closed," Catherine Baber director of Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific programme said.

According to information received by Amnesty International, Perwiz Kambakhsh was sentenced to death on Tuesday 22 January 2008 following a trial that manifestly failed to meet international standards on fair trials. Such standards are provided, in the International Covent on Civil and Political Rights, to which Afghanistan is a state party and in the 1984 Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection of the Rights of Those Facing the Death Penalty (adopted by the UN Economic and Social Council and endorsed by the UN General Assembly.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as a violation of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

This sentence comes despite the recent UN General Assembly's adoption of a resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions on 18 December 2007 and at a time when a total of 135 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

"Amnesty International condemns the death sentence against Perwiz Kambakhsh and urges President Karzai to use his power to ensure that the sentence is commuted and that Perwiz Kambahksh, a prisoner of conscience, is released," said Catherine Baber.

In line with the recent adoption of the UN General Assembly resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions in December Amnesty International calls on the Afghanistan government to re-introduce a moratorium on executions as a first step towards the total abolition of the death penalty in Afghanistan.

AI Index: ASA 11/001/2008
29 January 2008

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