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Getting Canadian aid to Afghanistan can only happen with Criminal Code changes: officials

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Federal government officials say Parliament would need to amend the Criminal Code for Canadian humanitarians to be allowed to help in Afghanistan.

Senior public servants told the Senate human-rights committee Monday evening that they have spent a year trying to see if there is any workaround in Canada’s anti-terrorism laws.

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Those laws forbid Canadians from purchasing goods in Afghanistan or hiring locals, as taxes paid to the Taliban might be considered contributions to a terror group, despite humanitarian crises in that country.

Other western countries amended their laws or issued exemptions for aid groups as long as a year ago, but officials testified that Canada’s laws are outdated and provide little wiggle room.

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Click to play video: '1 year under Taliban rule: What has changed in Afghanistan?'
1 year under Taliban rule: What has changed in Afghanistan?

Constitutional lawyers have argued the existing laws are contradictory and would not have aid workers sent to prison.

But the officials say a judge would need to rule on that, most likely after an aid worker is charged with a criminal offence.

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