Afghan civil society issues Declaration on women’s rights and family law

MONTREAL – April 8, 2009 – A new declaration is calling on the Government of Afghanistan to ensure its review of the Shia Personal Status Law is transparent and includes effective protection for the rights of women and children. The Kabul Declaration was authored by Afghan human rights organizations, Members of Parliament and government representatives at a conference organized by Rights & Democracy (International Centre for Human Rights and Democracy Development) in Kabul on Monday.

“We believe that while it is important to respect the human rights of all minorities, as enshrined in  the  Afghanistan  Constitution, laws should protect  the human rights of all Afghan women and children according to the principles and values stated in the Constitution,” reads the Declaration.

The  Kabul Declaration, which emerged from a conference on family  law  reforms  and  women’s  rights  in  Muslim countries, also  calls  on  the international community to press the Government  of  Afghanistan  on  human  rights  issues  and to maintain support  for  Afghan civil society’s efforts “to develop a culture of human rights and promote democratic values.”

“It is vital that Afghan women be included in the review process of this law and others like it,” says Rémy M. Beauregard, President of Rights & Democracy.  “Civil society’s involvement in the drafting of Afghanistan’s family law is fundamental to ensuring such laws reflect the rights of women and children.”

Monday’s conference was part of Rights & Democracy’s Rights in Practice: A Measure of Equality for Afghan Women project, which has been underway since April 2007. This four year project funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) provides support for Afghan civil society in its efforts to establish a new and equitable family law and promote a national marriage contract that respects the rights of women.

For  more  information, please contact Steve Smith at Rights & Democracy in Montreal, Canada: 514-898-4157