Reporters Without Borders describes the prosecution of an Afghan journalist as “arbitrary”

Reporters Without Borders describes the prosecution of an Afghan journalist as "arbitrary"

RSF has condemned the military court trial of an Afghan journalist last weekend, as well as the arbitrary and illegal arrests of other journalists in Afghanistan. The Taliban government has failed to implement the country’s press law, which guarantees journalists’ freedom of expression. On 7 May, a military court in Herat sentenced Khalid Qaderi, a poet and journalist with Radio Norroz in the western city of Herat, to a year in prison, according to his sister, a lawyer and human rights campaigner. His family went several days without knowing what had happened to him after his arrest by the Taliban intelligence service (Istikhbarat) on March 17. His case was handed up to the provincial prosecutor’s office in Herat. whose chief prosecutor presented the case during the trial before the military court.

RSF has learned that this young journalist was accused of posting content critical of the Taliban, including his radio broadcasts, on Facebook. In his defence, Qaderi told the court: “I realised my errors and I deleted the posts from my Facebook page.” This is the first time in 20 years in Afghanistan that a journalist has been tried by a military court, which is supposedly reserved for members of the armed forces. The trial and sentence were illegal as well as disproportionate. Qaderi was not defended by a lawyer and was even forced to renounce his right of appeal. Under Afghan law, complaints against journalists and media outlets are supposed to be handled by a Media Offences Verification Commission, and can be transferred to a court only if this commission so decides.  The recent victims of arbitrary arrest include Elaham Haquiquat, a journalist who was arrested by police in the southern city of Kandahar on April 17 for trying to cover a protest, and was held for several hours.

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