New Afghan law could silence victims

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during the opening of the Bayat Media Centre in Kabul on...

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during the opening of the Bayat Media Centre in Kabul on January 21, 2014. (REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail)

Jessica Hume, National Bureau

, Last Updated: 4:53 PM ET

OTTAWA — Canada has condemned a law currently making its way through the Afghan parliament amid mounting concerns over negotiations between the country's president, Hamid Karzai and the Taliban.

Minister of State for Foreign and Consular Affairs, Lynne Yelich expressed "deep concern" about legislation that would bar police from interviewing family members of criminal suspects.

The legislation, which Parliament passed and now awaits Karzai's signature, has been widely condemned by human rights groups and governments for its effective silencing of victims, particularly of sexual assault and domestic violence. Observers say it threatens already precarious women's rights in a country that has seen a rise in violent attacks against female police officers, officials and civilians in the past year.

"If adopted, this legislation could seriously hamper the investigation of crimes - particularly those against Afghan women and girls, including sexual and domestic violence and child, early and forced marriage - in which the accused is a relative," Yelich said in a statement.


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