Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-03-13-Speech-4-224"

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"Capital punishment is barbaric and freedom of expression is set in stone in Afghanistan's constitution. And yet the journalist Perwiz Kambakhsh has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, far from the capital Kabul, because of an article on women's rights under Islam which he did not even write himself. His brother writes critically about local leaders, so clearly that was not helpful to Perwiz's case. This death sentence came as an enormous shock, even in countries with a large Muslim population. Journalists in Pakistan, in Iran, in Qatar, everyone is painfully aware of the importance of safeguarding freedom of expression everywhere, worldwide. In the teeth of considerable opposition, in spite of ultraconservative clubs that hold no brief for freedoms, women's rights or open debate. Even though those conservatives need freedom of expression too. What should Europe do? 1. Offer more help than was promised in 2007 for reform of the judiciary in Afghanistan; 2. Appeal forcefully to President Karzai to take action and support him on this; 3. The European Union must make respect for human rights and the Afghan constitution a central pillar of the European Commission's policy. There is absolutely no point in forcing this issue more than the ultraconservatives are willing to tolerate. That would be playing into their hands. But Perwiz Kambakhsh must be freed forthwith."@en1

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