A journalism student in Afghanistan was accused of blasphemy for questioning women’s rights laws in class, as reported by The Associated Press. The student, 24 year-old Parwez Kambakhsh, was charged in Afghan courts, convicted, and originally sentenced to death. On Tuesday, the student’s sentence was overturned by an appeals court, and he was given 20 years.
U.S. attorney John Dempsey, who has for years worked for Afghan justice system reform, reportedly stated the student has not yet received a fair trial due to a lengthy unlawful detainment, not being provided an opportunity to adequately meet with an attorney before his trial, and other issues.
Kambakhsh was arrested in October of 2007 after being accused of disrupting class and illegally distributing information pertaining to the rights of women in his country. He was sentenced to death in January, having no attorney to represent him at the time. Although the death sentence was overturned, many, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, based in New York, condemned the 20 year sentence. Kambakhsh was reported as remarking that the decision was unfair while leaving the court. The 24 year-old has a chance of appealing his sentence to the Afghan Supreme Court.