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US voices concerns over new Afghan law that would limit justice for female abuse victims

A new draft law in Afghanistan is drawing international outcry amid concerns that it would greatly restrict prosecutions of domestic violence.

A new criminal procedure code would prevent relatives from testifying against alleged abusers, which activists warn would have a chilling effect on domestic violence prosecutions in Afghanistan. Often it is either a relative committing the abuse or the sole witness to the act.

The law is awaiting final signature from Afghan President Hamid Karzai after passing through parliament last month.

Human Rights Watch has urged Karzai not to sign. The European Union called it a "backward step" for women's rights.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul said in a statement on Thursday that it is "extremely concerned" and has raised those concerns with the Afghan government.