Department of Legislative Drafting - Ministry of Justice

Department of Legislative Drafting

The Ministry of Justice has traditionally played a central role in the passage of laws in Afghanistan. The arm of the Justice Ministry tasked with scrutinizing draft laws is the legislative drafting unit known as the “Taqnin”.

The Taqnin was established by law in 1341 (1962) to assist the then-Office of the Prime Minister in drafting and reviewing all national legislation, primarily for compliance with the Constitution, Islamic law, international legal standards, and to remedy conflicts with other national legislation. Since then, the Taqnin has played a principal role in the legislative drafting process of Afghanistan.

Although the Taqnin has no official mission statement, Part V of Official Gazette 787, published in 1999 established a charter for the Taqnin (the “Charter”) and explains its role in detail. It states in Article One that the Charter was enacted to achieve certain goals, including the following (to paraphrase):

  • The strengthening of Islamic Hanafi jurisprudence, Shari’a and the rule of law by drafting and scrutinizing proposed laws.
  • The development of legislative affairs in accordance with the principles of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
  • The promotion, description, explanation and publishing of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s laws for the community.
  • Offering legal advice to other government departments.
  • Providing expert legal guidance.
  • Training professionals in drafting and scrutinizing laws.

 

Chapter Two, Part V of Official Gazette 787 outlines the specific duties of the Taqnin including, among other things:

 

  • Drafting and examining all of Afghanistan’s legislative documents; Providing advice to the government as to the conformity of Afghanistan’s laws with international agreements to which the country is (or may become) a party and strengthening relationships between legal institutions of Afghanistan and those of other countries.
  • Contacting other relevant ministries and other government departments when preparing laws and offering opinions about the interpretation of laws.
  • Ensuring proper translation of Afghanistan’s laws in both Dari and Pashto and, where necessary, translating laws of other Islamic countries into Dari and Pashto and translating Afghanistan’s laws into foreign languages.
  • Compiling, translating and publishing books and other academic resources to promote public knowledge of the legal system and using the mass media to disseminate information regarding the country’s laws.
  • Providing guidance on laws to other MOJ departments and particularly, providing guidance on correcting any defects in relevant procedures

 

As noted, the MOJ’s Taqnin Department plays a pivotal role in the drafting and review of legislative documents in Afghanistan. All draft laws in Afghanistan ultimately must be vetted by professional members of the Taqnin for such things as compliance with the Constitution, Islamic law and those international agreements which Afghanistan has ratified. The Taqnin is also charged with ensuring consistency among Afghanistan’s laws, an extremely onerous task given the thousands of legislative documents in the country, many of which were issued by successive governments over the last 30 years and are related to the same or similar topics.

 

The Taqnin’s main clients are other government ministries and independent agencies of the State (e.g., the IARCSC, the Central Bank, etc.), all of whom rely on the services of the Taqnin when they want legislation passed or amended. Also, the Taqnin serves as a resource for those in the government who want to know if there is an existing law on a particular topic. Leading professional members of the Taqnin also sit on two bodies within the MOJ, one of which is known as an “Academic Council,” whose functions include approving the ranks of newly admitted professional members in the MOJ as well as approving proposed annual legislative work plans (among other things), the other known as an “Executive Committee” that briefs the Minister of Justice on the contents of drafts laws that he is to present to the Council of Ministers. These composition and role of these bodies will be discussed in more detail below.

 

Along with the offices of Taqnin Chairman and Deputy Chairman, the Taqnin has seven professional departments that work on drafting and reviewing legislation. These seven departments are categorized by different areas of law, as follows:

 

  • Department of Labor and Economic Laws.
  • Department of Civil and Commercial Laws.
  • Department of Penal and Administrative Laws.
  • Department of International Laws.
  • Department of Private Sector Laws.
  • Department of Research.
  • Department of Legal Leadership