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EU Criticizes Afghan Draft Law On Women's Rights

Ukraine -- A EU flag flies above Independence Square illuminated by green lights in central Kyiv, December 17, 2013
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has expressed concern about proposed Afghan legislation that rights groups say would not protect women from domestic violence and forced marriage.

Ashton said in a statement that if the bill is signed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, it will make it harder to prosecute people in domestic violence and child-abuse cases.

She added that it would prevent alleged abusers' relatives from testifying in court as prosecution witnesses.

Ashton called the draft law a "serious backward step" for women's rights in Afghanistan.

The parliament passed the "criminal procedure law" last year.

New York-based Human Rights Watch called last week for Karzai to send the bill back to legislators with amendments.

A Karzai spokesman said he could not comment on the president's intentions.

Based on reporting by AFP