From an open letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai from Reporters Without Borders, June 11.
Reporters Without Borders urges you to give a clear undertaking that your government will protect press freedom, which is currently under so much threat in your country.
Violence against the press is growing steadily. In the past 12 months, Reporters Without Borders has registered no fewer that 18 physical attacks on journalists, 23 death threats, 14 arrests and four abductions. Dozens of other journalists have been forced to resign.
You must of course be aware, Mr. President, of the case of the young journalist Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, which has shocked the entire world. The death sentence passed on him by a court in Mazar-i-Sharif triggered a wave of legitimate outrage.
The recent revelation that he was tortured by members of the security services casts doubt on your government's ability to respect the relevant international standards.
The inability of the police and judicial authorities to arrest the murderers of Peace Radio director Zakia Zaki undermines your international commitments on the rule of law. Since Zaki's murder a year ago, dozens of women journalists have been attacked, threatened or reduced to silence.
How, Mr. President, can you ask for greater support from Western countries when, at the same time, judges, prosecutors, political leaders and some clerics are targeting Afghan journalists with such virulence in your country? 3