President Karzai must open door to greater civil society participation on rights

MONTREAL – Nov. 3, 2009 – Hamid Karzai must use his new term as President of Afghanistan to ensure human rights, and especially women’s rights, are given the full legal protection demanded by Afghanistan’s Constitution and its international human rights commitments, says Rights & Democracy.

The coming months will see two laws with significant human rights implications come before President Karzai’s government for approval – Afghanistan’s new Family Law and the Elimination of Violence Against Women Act. It is vital that President Karzai make every effort to ensure that these laws give full protection to the Constitutional and international rights of Afghanistan’s women.

In this regard, Rights & Democracy calls on President Karzai to ensure his new term in office is marked by improved consultation with Afghan civil society representatives, especially those dedicated to advancing the rights of women. Improved communication and consultation with Afghan civil society is imperative to avoiding situations like the Shia Personal Status Law controversy earlier this year.

“President Karzai return to office should be the occasion to pay greater attention to Afghan civil society and its efforts to ensure that Afghanistan’s laws reflect its human rights commitments,” said Rémy M. Beauregard, President of Rights & Democracy.

Rights & Democracy’s four year Rights in Practice project 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. It is being implemented in the six provinces of Kabul, Kandahar, Balkh, Herat, Kunduz and Nangarhar by the all-Afghan staff of Rights & Democracy’s Kabul office. The project is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).