Non-Governmental Organisations

Chair: Karin Nordmeyer

Strasbourg (France), 29 April 2009

Open Letter

Subject: New Afghan law on “Personal Status” for Shia citizens

Dear President,

The Gender Equality Transversal Group of the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations of the Council of Europe is extremely concerned about the new Afghan law on “Personal Status” for Shia citizens.

This law is intended to be valid for Shiite Muslim women, but by creating a precedent, the law paves the way for application to all Afghan women. Whether it was adopted to pertain to a minority group, or to the entire population, the law contains paragraphs which discriminate against women as citizens of Afghanistan and clearly violate their human rights, as guaranteed in the democratic constitution of Afghanistan. Moreover, the law is contrary to a number of international agreements, including the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which Afghanistan has ratified.

For this reason, the Gender Equality Transversal Group has submitted a Position Paper on the subject to the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Assembly Committee of the Council of Europe on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men.

We have noted your publicised intention to revise the law, but changing the law is not sufficient. Therefore, the Gender Equality Transversal Group urgently requests you to withdraw this law – also in the interest of Afghanistan’s standing in the international community.

In the name of the Group
Respectfully yours

Karin Nordmeyer

President Hamid KARZAI
President of Afghanistan
Gul Khana Palace
Presidential Palace

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