Afghanistan's Primary Court in Kabul sentenced four men to death on May 5 for the mob killing of a 27-year-old woman. Farkhunda was killed March 19 after being accused of burning a copy of the Koran, although an investigation later determined she never did. The attack was captured on cell phone cameras as Farkhunda was beaten, thrown from a roof, run over by a car and dragged to a river bank. The nationally-televised trial had 49 suspects, including 19 police officers, charged with murder, assault and encouraging others to engage in assault. Four were sentenced to death, eight defendants were sentenced to 16 years in prison, and several others still await sentencing. Judge Safiullah Mojadedi dismissed the cases against 18 of the defendants. Mojadedi also ordered another police officer arrested for allegedly freeing a suspect in this case. The trial began just four days ago.
Farkhunda's brutal killing has led to increased calls for Afghan authorities to addres violence against women. In April a report released by Amnesty International said Afghanistan women's rights activists are facing increased violence and a lack of governmental support. Also last month the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that Afghanistan must strengthen its criminal justice system to provide protection for women victims of domestic violence.
There was already much existing criticism over the lack of protection for women in Afghanistan before Farkhunda's death as well. In November the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, called on the government of Afghanistan and the international community to adopt measures to address the causes and consequences of violence against women in the country. Human Rights Watch encouraged the former Afghan President Hamid Karzai last February to refuse to sign a law passed by parliament that could have denied women protection from domestic violence and forced marriage.
From Jurist, May 6. Used with permission.