[JURIST] Afghanistan’s Primary Court in Kabul sentenced four men to death on Tuesday for the mob killing of a 27-year-old Afghan woman in March. 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 [AP report] to death, eight defendants were sentenced to 16 years in prison, and several others are scheduled to be sentenced on Sunday. Judge Safiullah Mojadedi dismissed the cases against 18 of the defendants. Mojadedi also ordered [AP report] 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 protect women from violence. In April a report released by Amnesty International [advocacy website] said Afghanistan women’s rights activists are facing increased violence [JURIST report] 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 [official websites] reported that Afghanistan must strengthen its criminal justice system [JURIST report] to provide protection for women victims of domestic violence. There was already much existing criticism over the lack of protection for women [JURIST op-ed] 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 sustainable measures to address the causes and consequences [JURIST report] of violence against women in the country. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] encouraged the former Afghan President Hamid Karzai last February to refuse to sign [JURIST report] a law passed by parliament that some say could have denied women protection from domestic violence and forced marriage.