Aid for Afghanistan Coalition Statement: The Passage of Bill C-41, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Topics: Worldwide, International Humanitarian Law
Ottawa | June 20, 2023

The Aid for Afghanistan Coalition welcomes the adoption of Bill C-41 as a first step in enabling Canadian aid organizations to provide crucial humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan and other similar contexts. This legislation is needed to give Canadian aid organizations a path forward to ensure those who are in need of assistance receive it, regardless of where they are located.
Over the past two years, Canadian aid organizations have advocated for the removal of barriers to much needed aid in places including Afghanistan, where Canadian aid organizations have been unable to work since the Taliban took control in August 2021.
We believe that Bill C-41 is a step forward to allowing Canadian aid organizations to operate in a neutral, impartial and independent manner in these exceptional circumstances. 
We welcome the inclusion of a humanitarian exemption in Bill C-41, which covers a broad range of humanitarian work permitted under international law. These activities are vital for improving access to health care, ensuring access to food, water and sanitation, education, the protection of detainees and protecting human dignity.
Looking ahead, there is more work to be done.  In the longer term we encourage movement away from requiring aid organizations to seek specific permission to operate and allow for a provision in legislation to ensure swift and efficient assistance to places where and when it is needed most.
The Coalition will continue to work closely with partners to monitor the implementation of Bill C-41 and to ensure that it is done in a clear and effective way.  We look forward to sharing these observations at the Bill’s one-year review mark.
We thank all Canadians who used their voice to help champion this issue. We know that humanitarian needs continue to grow, and assistance is needed now, more than ever.
Canadian Red Cross
World Vision Canada
Islamic Relief Canada
Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan
Save the Children Canada
Cooperation Canada
Canadian Foodgrains Bank
Presbyterian World Service & Development
Humanitarian Coalition
Oxfam Canada
Plan International Canada
Development and Peace – Caritas Canada
Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH)
CARE Canada
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