HRW wants MPs to reject criminal law revision
A new draft of the criminal procedure code is currently being considered by the lower house of the parliament, according to Human Rights Watch, which claimed seeing the proposed legislative measure.
The proposed language would prohibit a criminal defendant's relatives of from being questioned as a witness against the accused, a statement from the group said. If the provision became law, victims and other family members who have been witnesses to abuse would be silenced, it warned.
Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said: “Afghanistan’s lower house is proposing to protect the batterers of women and girls from criminal punishment. Legislative approval of this criminal law revision would effectively stop prosecutions of people who beat, forcibly marry and even sell their female relatives.”
Article 26 of the draft law states: “The following people cannot be questioned as a witness: … 4) Relatives of the accused person.” The amended procedure code would pose a serious threat to critical protections for women and girls in the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law, passed through a presidential decree in 2009.
HRW accused some MPs of increasingly seeking to repeal or weaken the EVAW law. The watchdog recalled a Wolesi Jirga debate over the law in May was halted after 15 minutes when lawmakers called for revisions that would have eliminated the minimum marriage age for girls, abolished shelters and ended criminal penalties for rape and domestic violence.
Also in May, the assembly passed a revision of the Electoral Law that deleted an existing guarantee reserving at least 25 percent of seats in provincial councils for female candidates. The two houses later agreed upon a version of the law that reduces the set-aside to 20 percent.
“It’s perverse that Afghanistan’s parliament is devoting its time and energies to attacking women’s hard-fought legal protections,” Adams said. “The international donors who bankroll the Afghan government should serve notice that they will not underwrite legislative initiatives to victimize women.”
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