Afghanistan: UN stresses right of free expression after journalist’s sentencing

24 October 2005 – Taking note of the sentencing of an Afghan journalist to two years in prison for publishing an article considered offensive to Islam, the United Nations mission in the country said today the right to freedom of expression applies to everyone, including journalists, and should be strongly defended.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which is closely following the case of Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, noted that the Media Monitoring Commission, as opposed to the court, found that he had not committed blasphemy and recommended his release from detention, spokesman Adrian Edwards told a news briefing in Kabul, the Afghan capital.

UNAMA understands that Mr. Nasab has the right to appeal his conviction under Afghan law on grounds relating to the substance of the case, as well as on procedural grounds if he considers that due process has not been observed. The mission considers the widespread attention given to this case in local media is an encouraging sign, Mr. Edwards said.

“UNAMA believes the right to freedom of expression, enshrined in the Constitution of Afghanistan as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, applies to everyone, including journalists, and should be strongly defended,” he added.

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