Australia must ensure justice for Afghan women facing violence

Uhrra
By Uhrra February 23, 2014 04:47

Australia must call on Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai to reject a proposed law which will prevent effective investigation and prosecution of gender based violence. There is serious concern within Afghanistan and the international community that Karzai may endorse this legislation in the next few days which will see Afghan women unable to access justice

The draft Criminal Procedure Code, passed by the Afghan parliament in January 2014, includes a new provision (Article 26) which prohibits relatives of the accused from testifying in criminal cases, including violence against women cases.

Violence against women

Before it is too late, the Australian government as a donor and member of the UN Security Council must show global leadership by encouraging the Afghan government to protect and advance women’s rights.

Ming Yu, Amnesty International Australia’s Campaigner for Afghan Women’s Rights

Most violence against women and girls in Afghanistan, including domestic violence, forced or child marriage, occurs within the family. A Global Rights survey estimated that 87% of women in Afghanistan experience at least one form of physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage, and an estimated 62% experienced multiple forms of violence. The new provision would make prosecution of violence against women extremely challenging as family members are usually the ones who witness abuses against women.

“If signed by Karzai, this revised Criminal Procedure Code will have a chilling effect on the investigation of violence against women. Police and judicial officials will be discouraged from questioning family members when such evidence is unlikely to be accepted in court,” said Ming Yu, Amnesty International Australia’s Campaigner for Afghan Women’s Rights.

The Afghan Women’s Network (AWN), the peak umbrella group with over 100 member organisations in Afghanistan, stated that approving such a law would lead to “structured violence against women and furthermore will limit their access to justice.”

No Legal Protections

Amnesty International is calling on President Karzai to heed the advice of Afghan women’s rights advocates and reject the draft Criminal Procedure Code.

“If President Karzai approves this new provision it would undermine the important gains made for women and girls in Afghanistan. This includes the legal protections enshrined in the landmark Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law, which he himself signed in 2009,” said Ming Yu.

“If approved, this law is likely to encourage perpetrators to commit such crimes of violence, because they will know that no family member will be permitted to testify against them, and they will know that they can commit crimes with absolute impunity.”

International condemnation of the proposed Criminal Procedure Code revision has come from the European Union, Canada and United States.

“Before it is too late, the Australian government as a donor and member of the UN Security Council must show global leadership by encouraging the Afghan government to protect and advance women’s rights, particularly by rejecting this proposed law.”

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