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Afghanistan

Portal for Processing Legislative Documents (AF0018)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Afghanistan Action Plan 2019-2021

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Justice and National Directorate of Statistics & Information

Support Institution(s): Parliament Administrative office of the president State Ministry in Parliamentary Affairs and Legislative committee of cabinet Related civil society organizations

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Open Parliaments, Regulatory Governance

IRM Review

IRM Report: Afghanistan Design Report 2019-2021

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
Approval of laws in relevant offices, processing of legislative documents and legislature timeline is defined in the article no. 97 of constitution. Parliament cannot delay the proposed layout more than a month and Senate must take a decision within fifteen days. However, current situation is different and law on processing of legislative documents is not being implemented. There isn’t a platform for public to track the progress on legislation making. Electronic system can track the status of legislative documents. status, location (office where it is being processed) of every document can be tracked.

What is the commitment?
Law on processing of legislative documents has clearly defined the process of legislative documents, however, it’s not being implemented in relevant offices and processing of legislative documents takes months and years.
It is expected that the development of online portal to follow up the legislative documents shall ascertain public participation and make offices implement the law on processing of legislative documents to promote transparency and accountability.

How will the commitment contribute to solving the public problem?
Developing the electronic system and using technology will pave the ground for public participation in pursuit of processing of legislative documents. CSOs and private sector can share their inputs and views online pertinent to laws which are being processed. Electronic system can track the status of legislative documents, status, location (office where it is being processed) of every document can be tracked. Based on law a required time would be intercalated into the system for every office, in case of delays reasons would interpolate. System measures delays and automatically displays from the date of registration. CSOs and public can identify the delinquent authorities and advocate in the event of any delays. Herewith, authorities are obliged to implement the law and enhance accountability and transparency. Eventually, law on processing of legislative documents would be implemented. System will have to provide tracking details of legislative document processing on real time basis for CSOs and public.

Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
This commitment is related to all values of OGP. Developing online platform comes off the latest technology practice. Public and CSOs can refer to platform and participate in the processing of legislative documents. Through public participation and registration of legislative documents in the relevant offices transparency and accountability would be promoted

Additional information
Law on processing of legislative documents
Constitution of Afghanistan

IRM Midterm Status Summary

5. Develop an Online Portal to Follow-Up the Processing of Legislative Documents

Law on processing of legislative documents has clearly defined the process of legislative documents, however, it’s not being implemented in relevant offices and processing of legislative documents takes months and years. It is expected that the development of online portal to follow up the legislative documents shall ascertain public participation and make offices implement the law on processing of legislative documents to promote transparency and accountability.

Main Objective

Developing the electronic system and using technology will pave the ground for public participation in pursuit of processing of legislative documents. CSOs and private sector can share their inputs and views online pertinent to Laws which are being processed. Electronic system can track the status of legislative documents, status, location (office where it is being processed) of every document can be tracked. Based on law a required time would be intercalated into the system for every office, in case of delays reasons would interpolate. System measures delays and automatically displays from the date of registration.

CSOs and public can identify the delinquent authorities and advocate in the event of any delays. Herewith, authorities are obliged to implement the Law and enhance accountability and transparency. Eventually, Law on Processing of Legislative Documents would be implemented. System will have to provide tracking details of legislative document processing on real time basis for CSOs and public.

Milestones

  • Coordination with concerned offices to develop the platform and gather data for budget and manpower.
  • Recruitment of specialized manpower to develop and administer the online system (contract agreement in case of outsourcing).
  • Conduct requirement gathering analysis for the online platform and analyze the outcome for development of platform.
  • Design and develop the system (online portal).
  • Pilot the platform, organize trainings for relevant staff, and hand over the platform to concerned offices (Ministry of Justice, State Ministry in Parliamentary Affairs, Parliament).
  • Organize public awareness campaign (Seminars, TV ads) by Ministry of Justice.
  • Full implementation of system and report to public.

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Afghanistan’s action plan at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Afghanistan_Action-Plan_2019-2021_EN.pdf.

IRM Design Report Assessment

Verifiable:

Yes

Relevant:

Access to Information

Potential impact:

Minor

Commitment Analysis

This commitment aims to develop an online portal where citizens could access information regarding the processing of legislative documents. The Ministry of Justice and the National Statistics Directorate will lead implementation. Those bodies will collaborate with the National Assembly, the Office of the President, the State Ministry for Parliamentary Affairs, the Legislative Committee of the Cabinet, and relevant civil society organizations. This commitment builds on Commitment 2 of Afghanistan’s first action plan, which amended the Law on Processing, Publishing, and Enforcing Legislative Documents. The amendments formalized the participation of professionals and CSOs in drafting legislation and required the MoJ and other institutions to publish draft laws for public input. [54]

The Law on Processing, Publishing, and Enforcing Legislative Documents regulates the overall lawmaking process. That process consists of six steps: 1) Relevant institutions draft the bill. 2) The Scientific Legal Research and Legislative Institute of the Ministry of Justice and other stakeholders review it. 3) The Legislative Committee of the Cabinet and the Office of the President endorse it. 4) The National Assembly ratifies it. 5) The president signs it. 6) The Ministry of Justice publishes it in the official gazette. [55] This law replaced an older law that did not have a mechanism for civil society to participate in the lawmaking process. [56]

In practice, the process of passing a bill takes around a year—two and a half months each for development on the side of the government and parliament, followed by Cabinet approval, which could take up to six months. [57] Some laws can take even longer. For example, the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women was signed by the president in 2009. [58] However, it still has not been ratified, due to complications and perceived controversies surrounding its provisions. [59]

This commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information, as it supports greater public access to information on the legislative drafting process.

If fully implemented, the commitment will have a positive but minor potential impact on increasing access to the legal drafting process. However, it is not likely to speed up the processing of legislative drafts, which is a major problem this commitment also tries to address. The envisioned online portal could provide the public with relevant information, such as the status of a bill, the office responsible for the bill, and the actual draft bill. However, the scope of such provision is limited, as internet accessibility in Afghanistan is scarce. Less than 20 percent of the population has access to a stable internet connection. Thus, a majority of the population will have limited or no access to the proposed portal.

There are several factors that influence and delay the lawmaking process. Proliferation of laws, for example, is a common issue, as different administrations propose new laws that cover similar subjects already regulated by existing laws. They also often introduce contradictory clauses. [60] Political negotiations and prolonged debates over different perspectives of a law are also common issues that have hampered the legislative process. [61] The lack of specificity in the time frame for the Legislative Committee of the Cabinet and the National Assembly to endorse and ratify a bill, [62] respectively, is another major constraint. A bill could be processed for as long as possible without disclosure and end up delayed in political limbo at the Legislative Committee of the Cabinet, or the National Assembly. The bodies would have no legal obligation to provide an explanation to the public. This is what happened with the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Publishing information about the legislative process and ensuring meaningful mechanisms for public participation are essential for a democratic process in the country. However, more efficient lawmaking overall will require a wider range of measures. These include capacity building to process laws for the staff in the Ministry of Justice, the Legislative Committee of the Cabinet, and the National Assembly.

During implementation of this commitment, the Ministry of Justice and the National Assembly could consider the following recommendations:

  • Ensure a user-friendly interface for the online portal. Make draft bills and other legislative documents easily identifiable and searchable, and focus on how citizens can use the portal to follow the legislative process.
  • Develop a mechanism for posting public comments on the portal, including when the processing of a bill shows irregularities. Such posting would be in line with the mandate of Article 21 of the Law on Processing, Publishing, and Enforcing Legislative Documents. [63]
  • Develop a strategy to strengthen the capacity of the relevant units in the Ministry of Justice, as well as the Legislative Committee of the Cabinet and the National Assembly. Focus on training the relevant staff on legislative expertise and drafting. Such training could also help address the challenge of legislators developing multiple legal drafts on the same topic, often with contradictory clauses.
[54] Huma Saeed. Afghanistan’s 2017-2019 IRM Implementation Report. Publication Forthcoming.
[55] Law on Processing Manner of Publication and Enforcement of Legislative Documents, Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, accessed July 2020, https://moj.gov.af/Content/files/OfficialGazette/01201/OG_01246.pdf.
[56] Open Government Partnership, Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) Afghanistan Design Report 2017–2019, 2019, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Afghanistan_Design_Report_2017-2019_EN.pdf, p. 22.
[57] Sayed Mohamad Hashemi (Ministry of Justice of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan), interview by IRM researcher, 8 June 2020.
[58] “UN Officials in Afghanistan Urge Ratification of Law to Eliminate Violence against Women,” United Nations News, 20 May 2013, https://news.un.org/en/story/2013/05/440072-un-officials-afghanistan-urge-ratification-law-eliminate-violence-against-women.
[59] Hashemi interview.
[60] Integrity Watch Afghanistan, interview by IRM researcher, 4 June 2020.
[61] Ibid.
[62] Hashemi interview.
[63] Law on Processing Manner of Publication and Enforcement of Legislative Documents.

Commitments

  1. Revise Law on Recruitment and Authority of Attorneys General

    AF0014, 2019, Access to Justice

  2. Revise Law on Local Government

    AF0015, 2019, Legislation & Regulation

  3. Establish Anti-Corruption Commission

    AF0016, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  4. Draft Beneficial Ownership Legislation

    AF0017, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  5. Portal for Processing Legislative Documents

    AF0018, 2019, Capacity Building

  6. CSO Monitoring of Education

    AF0019, 2019, E-Government

  7. Develop Electronic Complaint System for Local Government

    AF0020, 2019, Capacity Building

  8. Reform and Strengthen Education Data

    AF0021, 2019, Access to Information

  9. Participation in Local Budgeting

    AF0022, 2019, Fiscal Openness

  10. Electronic Revenue Collection System

    AF0023, 2019, Capacity Building

  11. Co-Create University Curriculum

    AF0024, 2019, Education

  12. Reform Promotion System for Police Officers

    AF0025, 2019, E-Government

  13. Monitoring Framework for Medicine Wholesalers

    AF0026, 2019, E-Government

  14. Monitoring of Private and Public Health Centers

    AF0027, 2019, E-Government

  15. Participation in National Budget

    AF0028, 2019, Fiscal Openness

  16. Open Justice for Anti-Corruption

    AF0029, 2019, Access to Justice

  17. Women's Empowerment Plan

    AF0030, 2019, Gender

  18. Establishment of Women Grand Council

    AF0031, 2019, Gender

  19. Law on Processing, Publishing and Enforcing Legislative Documents

    AF0002, 2017, Legislation & Regulation

  20. Courts to Address Violence Against Women

    AF0003, 2017, Access to Justice

  21. Public-Police Partnership Councils

    AF0004, 2017, Capacity Building

  22. Registering Assets of Government Officials

    AF0005, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  23. Scheme for Establishing Health Service Accreditation Entity

    AF0006, 2017, Capacity Building

  24. Urban Improvement National Policy

    AF0007, 2017, Infrastructure & Transport

  25. Protection Policy for Women Under Conflict and Emergency Situations

    AF0008, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  26. Civil Society Monitoring Plan for Education and Higher Education

    AF0009, 2017, Education

  27. Plan for the Establishment of a Joint Committee Overseeing the Implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy

    AF0010, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  28. Strengthen the Information Mechanism in 60 Governmental Agencies

    AF0011, 2017, Access to Information

  29. Starred commitment Implementing Open Contracting

    AF0012, 2017, Access to Information

  30. Starred commitment Public Participation in Road Network Projects

    AF0013, 2017, Infrastructure & Transport

  31. Starred commitment Mechanism of Public Partnership in Inspection Process

    AF0001, 2017, Anti-Corruption

Open Government Partnership