Afghan president orders changes to draft law following claims it would hurt women's rights

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered changes to a draft of new criminal legislation in response to an international outcry warning it would severely limit justice for victims of domestic abuse.

Afghanistan's parliament had passed a new criminal procedure code that would ban relatives from testifying against alleged abusers. Human rights groups and several of Afghanistan's Western allies — including the U.S. — voiced concerns it would block most prosecutions involving violence against women, where relatives are often the only witnesses.

The law was awaiting final signature from Karzai.

His spokesman Aimal Faizi says the president decided at a Cabinet meeting Monday that it must be amended to address concerns raised by rights groups.

Faizi said the changes will ensure that relatives have "total freedom" to testify in criminal proceedings.