From the Globe and Mail in Canada:
Canada knew about Afghan rape law in advance: documents
Ottawa — The Candian Press Last updated on Monday, Jun. 29, 2009 03:40PM EDT
Officials at the embassy in Kabul were warned Feb. 15 that other countries were worried about the proposed Shiite family law.
But the diplomats had no specific knowledge about the provisions of the law or when it was to be considered by the Afghan parliament, say the documents obtained by the federal New Democrats.
The law gives sweeping powers to Shiite husbands over their wives, effectively legalizing rape within a marriage. The legislation triggered international outrage when it was signed into law by President Hamid Karzai five weeks later.
A written timeline outlining Ottawa’s response to the crisis was tabled in the House of Commons after a formal question by New Democrat MP Paul Dewar on Parliament’s order paper.
The four-page summary also shows that officials with the Canadian International Development Agency, which has been mentoring Afghans in human rights and democracy, knew as far back as October last year that the law was being drafted but were unaware of its wording.
Mr. Dewar said someone should have been asking questions.
“We’re supposed to be there keeping an eye on human rights,” Dewar said, noting that Ottawa is the principal funding source for the Afghan human-rights commission.
“I would have thought if this had been noted to our officials they would have been on it immediately.”
Both Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon and International Trade Minister Stockwell Day have said they weren’t aware of the legislation before it led to censures from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President Barack Obama and other international leaders. …
Soraya Sobharang, a prominent member of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, testified before the same committee via teleconference that Western countries let down the women of her country. She said Canada needs to be more vigilant about intervening on human-rights matters. …
The Afghan government is reviewing the law, but Ms. Sobharang was not confident the measures will be overturned. She warned in May that she was worried that similar legislation would be introduced for the majority Sunni population.
US Military Escalation Leads to Record Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan: here.