President Karzai Blocks Law Protecting Perpetrators of Domestic Violence

Afghan President Hamid Karzai

The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, withheld his signature from the draft Criminal Procedure Code, which would have silenced victims of domestic violence, forced marriage and child abuse, after a campaign by Afghan activists, western governments and international human rights groups. The law was a threat to progress made on women's human rights, and the President’s veto is welcome, writes Amnesty International on their website:

The draft code passed by the Afghan parliament last month included a new provision which would have prohibited relatives of the accused from testifying in criminal cases. With most cases of gender-based violence taking place in the family, this would have made successful prosecutions nearly impossible.

“This is an important step against retrograde legislation that would have let rapists and perpetrators of domestic violence off the hook,” said Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan Researcher at Amnesty International. 

“This draft code would have taken Afghanistan back decades in terms of discrimination of women and girls in the country. President Karzai has taken a crucial step by refusing to sign the amended code. Meanwhile he must ensure that victims of domestic violence, rape and other crimes have a viable path to justice, including by putting in place witness protection programmes.”

“Government officials and members of parliament must steer clear of any proposed law that undermines the human rights gains made by the Afghan people in recent years. This includes not enacting laws that discriminate against women.”

“Any amendments must only strengthen human rights protection and compliance with Afghanistan's obligations under international law.”



Originally published on Amnesty International's website.

For further information, see "Hamid Karzai orders changes to draft law amid fears for Afghan women" by The Guardian and "Karzai calls for amendment of Afghan law decried as dangerous to women" by Thomas Reuters Foundation.

Photo by Secretary of Defense.

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