New York, April 17, 2019 — The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on the Afghan government to deliver justice through a fair and transparent process after two suspects were sentenced to death for the killing of Kabul News journalist Abdul Manan Arghand.
The verdict was announced on April 16 by the Afghan attorney general’s office, following the court’s decision on April 6, according to local independent broadcaster TOLO News and Jamshid Rasooli, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office, who spoke to CPJ.
The names of the two suspects have not been released, and the trial was not open to the public, according to Rasooli.
“We applaud the government’s efforts to end impunity in the murder of journalists in Afghanistan, which is one of the deadliest places in the world to be a journalist,” said Robert Mahoney, CPJ’s deputy executive director. “But justice delivered in darkness is not justice, especially when the state decides upon capital punishment. We urge the Afghan authorities to try suspects in open court in accordance with international human rights standards.”
The primary court’s decision will be reviewed by a secondary court and by the Afghan supreme court, Rasooli told CPJ.
Arghand, a reporter with the privately owned Kabul News television channel, was shot and killed by two unknown gunmen on April 25, 2018, while he was driving to work, according to CPJ reporting. He had previously received anonymous death threats and the Interior Ministry said the Taliban had marked Arghand as a target for assassination, CPJ reported.
The two men who were sentenced to death were associated with the Taliban, Rasooli said.
A court also convicted three men for killing Ahmad Shah, a reporter with the BBC’s Afghan service who was killed in 2018, the BBC reported in January; one man was handed a death sentence, and the other two were sentenced to 30 years and six years in prison. The motive for Shah’s killing remains unclear, according to the BBC and CPJ. CPJ is continuing to investigate the case.
Afghanistan was the deadliest country for journalists last year and ranked sixth on CPJ’s Impunity Index, which highlights states with the worst records of prosecuting the killers of journalists.