The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan created the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) in 1921. Although the MOJ has undergone many changes, it remains the key institution within the executive branch. It is primarily responsible for upholding the rule of law in Afghanistan. The organizational structure of the MOJ contains more than 2,000 professional and administrative positions throughout Afghanistan. Not only does the MOJ serve as the primary link between ordinary Afghan citizens and the judicial and legislative branches, it also serves other government entities, including the Office of the President and Council of Ministers by providing legal consultation. The MOJ also cooperates with institutions like the Supreme Court and the Attorney General’s Office.
The Ministry of Justice has extensive responsibilities that include the following:
1) Drafting, reviewing and proposing legislation and/or amendments, and providing legal and legislative advice to the Ministries and Government of Afghanistan;
2) Representing the Government and defending state properties and interests in courts;
3) Managing legal aid services, cooperating with all defense attorneys, and providing legal services to the indigent and vulnerable groups;
4) Resolving civil and commercial disputes among citizens during the initial stage and before referral to courts, and enforcing court judgments in civil and commercial cases;
5) Developing and publishing legal information to enhance public awareness;
6) Publishing legal documents in the Official Gazette;
7) Reviewing pre-registration forms and registering political parties and social organizations;
8) Managing the Juvenile Rehabilitation Centers throughout Afghanistan; and
9) Evaluating, assessing, and monitoring human rights in the executive branch of government.
Since 2007, JSSP has partnered with MOJ to provide capacity building, material assistance, mentoring and advisory services. JSSP’s Ministry of Justice Assistance Section was established to strengthen professional, administration, and management procedures, enhance technical and donor coordination capacity, and support MOJ in development of strategies, policies, and implementation plans.
JSSP works with the MOJ to identify training and technical needs of the MOJ and build institutional and human capacities. This is accomplished by conducting training programs and providing mentoring and advisory services to all MOJ Departments.
Government Cases Department: Through participation in legislative drafting working groups on the Government Cases Law, which was recently endorsed by the President, the Property Dealers Law, and the Petition Writer Law, JSSP has assisted the department in the modernization of highly important functions. The Government Cases Law will provide the department with the legal authority needed to represent the government in court in all civil litigation and recover government lands usurped by private actors during many years of war. The Property Dealers Law will enable the department to effectively regulate and license thousands of property dealers involved in land transactions. The Petition Writer Law would ensure that persons who write petitions to the government on behalf of citizens have clear procedures to follow and at the same time provide the Government Cases Department with the authority needed to regulate Petition Writers. Petition writers play an extremely important role in Afghanistan since most Afghans are illiterate and are not able to convey their critical concerns to the government. Literate Petition Writers have traditionally assisted citizens who desire government action and therefore serve an important function in Afghanistan's new Democratic system.
Huquq Department: The Huquq (Rights) Department has existed as part of the MOJ since 1921. Huquq offices provide an opportunity for citizens to settle civil cases within the formal system before being brought into the court system. Cases are typically resolved at the district or provincial level based on the evidence presented by the parties to the dispute. In cases where a resolution cannot be made, cases are referred to the courts. The Huquq also enforces the decisions of the court. According to the MOJ, the Huquq is financially self-sufficient and provides substantial additional revenue to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as a result of fees collected on legal cases, and is considered a major support for the budget of the government. JSSP assisted in the preparation of the National Legal Awareness Strategy and Action Plan. The department has actively promoted public awareness of legal rights as a result. JSSP also assisted in the review and revision of the Law on Procedure for Obtaining Rights to update and improve the department’s ability to serve the public.
Taqnin Department: The Taqnin Department is responsible for drafting legislation and providing legal and legislative drafting advice to the executive branch, ministries, and government offices. Training of professional members has increased their knowledge and ability to effectively draft legislation. Follow-on mentoring, which focuses on specific skills necessary for thorough and accurate writing, has improved the quality of drafted legislation. JSSP secretariat support of, and active participation in, the Criminal Law Reform Working Group (CLRWG) has significantly improved the department’s ability to draft criminal legislation. CLRWG permanent membership includes representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, Attorney General’s Office, Supreme Court, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the U.S. Embassy, United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan, European Union Police Mission to Afghanistan and JSSP.
Communications Department: Training and advising has allowed the MOJ Information Technology (IT) Department to create email accounts for all staff. The internal telephone system is operational and can support up to 160 users with services at MOJ headquarters.
Policy and Planning Department: Because of JSSP’s training and advising, the MOJ Policy and Planning Department can now analyze and consolidate performance reports received from other departments. In addition, the Policy and Planning staff now has the capacity to draft and develop policies, strategies, and work plans.
Human Rights: Training and advising has enabled the MOJ to advance human rights protections for vulnerable populations by increasing its ability to fulfill the mandate to combat trafficking in persons. A “National Action Plan on Combatting Human Trafficking for the 2013-2014” was developed and approved. The Terms of Reference for the High Commission to Combat Crimes of Abduction and Human Trafficking was also finalized and approved with JSSP assistance. As a result of training and mentoring on Trafficking in Persons, the members of the High Commission are now better equipped to investigate, prosecute and protect victims of human trafficking.
Human Resources: JSSP helped the MOJ Human Resources (HR) Department to develop manuals on Complaint Resolution, a Healthy and Safe at Working Environment, an Introduction to the MOJ, and the HR Database. JSSP has also assisted the MOJ HR department in developing and reviewing Terms of Reference (TOR) for all employees, developing training proposals and preparing annual achievement reports.
Office of the Minister: Because of the assistance of an embedded JSSP advisor, Office of the Minister employees are better able to coordinate high-level meetings and travel for the Minister of Justice, and to effectively communicate with the MOJ staff in all departments.
Administration and Finance: Ongoing mentoring and training has significantly improved the MOJ procurement bidding and evaluation processes, budget coding process, costing process, and warehouse management. A new inventory database now allows the MOJ to record, monitor and keep track of the goods received, stored and distributed in the warehouse. The MOJ is better able to track contracts as a result of the creation of a new database. Regular mentoring increased the efficiency in entering data from two contracts per week to twelve contracts per week, an increase of 600% in efficiency. This is based on the information collected from the contracts database.
Legal Aid Department (LAD): Because of training, mentoring and advising, the professional skills of LAD Defense Attorneys skills have improved. Trained counsel can now draft persuasive defense statements. LAD is equipped to identify trainings needs throughout Afghanistan so that it can tailor its needs to the respective province.
Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (AIBA): Because of mentoring and advising, the AIBA can now measure training needs. The AIBA’s Education Committee has developed the skills to create a comprehensive Continuing Legal Education curriculum.
Juvenile: JSSP’s training and mentoring to the Juvenile Court Judges, Police, Prosecutors, and Social Workers have increased their awareness of their legal obligation to request a Social Inquiry Report (SIR), assess alternatives to detention, and follow international conventions. The Juvenile Rehabilitation Department (JRD) staff is now able to effectively research juvenile rights.
Supporting the Afghan Ministry of Justice, JSSP works with a variety of partners, including the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (AIBA), United Nation Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Global Rights, European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL) and the World Bank.