Cablegate: 2007 List and Status of Legislation Considered By
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FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
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RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KABUL 000361
STATE FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, S/CRS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
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TAGS: KDEM PGOV AF
SUBJECT: 2007 LIST AND STATUS OF LEGISLATION CONSIDERED BY
REF: KABUL 48
1. (SBU) The second annual session of the Afghan Parliament
(ended in December 2007) was politically contentious but
nevertheless produced significant legislation. The
Parliament sent 14 bills to President Karzai for his
signature. Political strains between Parliament and the
Palace were reflected in the fact that Karzai signed seven of
the fifteen bills, vetoed five, and withheld action on two.
Fifteen bills remain in the Upper House (Meshrano Jirga), and
five remain in the Lower House (Wolesi Jirga). One bill
cleared both houses but was not transmitted to the Palace
before Parliament adjourned. The status of the legislation
considered by the Parliament in 2007 is as follows.
2. Legislation Considered by Afghan Parliament in 2007
(SBU) President Karzai signed the following seven bills.
- Afghan Budget for 1386 (2007-8), which outlines the 1386
budget. (The fact that the budget was passed and signed on
time in 2007 represented progress over 2006, when
Palace-Parliament debate delayed it for several months.)
- Provincial Councils Law, which creates the legal framework
for provincial councils.
- Environmental Law, which establishes environmental
- Prisons and Detention Centers Law, which establishes
regulations to govern prisons.
- Military Code Governing Officers, which regulates officers
in the armed services.
- Advocates Law bill, which establishes a framework for legal
advocacy in Afghanistan.
- UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), which makes
Afghanistan a party to UNCAC.
(SBU) President Karzai vetoed the following four bills.
- Independent Constitutional Commission bill, which would
establish a commission for constitutional oversight as
specified by article 157 of the constitution. (Karzai
considered that the commission would infringe on judicial
prerogatives and opposed it to protect separation of powers.
Parliamentary leaders, however, argue that Karzai's veto of
this bill conflicts with Article 157 of the constitution,
which calls for the establishment of an independent
commission to supervise constitutional implementation.)
- The Code of Justice for Crimes Committed Against Minors
bill. (Karzai vetoed this bill because he disagreed with
Parliament's decision to define 19 as the age of majority;
Karzai preferred 18.)
- The State Owned Enterprises Law bill, which governs the
operation and oversight of parastatals. (Karzai vetoed this
bill because of amendments suggested by Parliament, which
would have unnecessarily curbed the authority of the
Enterprise Evaluation Committee at the Ministry of Finance.
The committee would have had to seek final approval from
Parliament before implementing any parastatal liquidation
plans. He may also have used his veto due to his concerns
about providing state jobs to Afghans and in order to protect
the Afghan government airline, Ariana.)
- Law of Land Ownership bill, which regulates land ownership
and leasing. (Many Afghans remain wary of laws that ease
market restrictions and provide means for tax collection.
Karzai may have heeded advice from free-market opponents to
veto the bill.)
(SBU) President Karzai received but did not act on one bill
and one resolution. (According to article 94 of the
constitution, any bill held by the president for more than 15
days becomes law.)
- Amnesty Bill, which provides amnesty to combatants
throughout the Soviet occupation, civil war, and Taliban rule
of Afghanistan. (According to Parliament's legal office, it
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transmitted this bill to President Karzai. The Palace would
not confirm that it had received the bill for signature, and
we find no record of the bill in the official gazette.)
- Security Resolution, which outlines failings of the Afghan
government to address security challenges and suggests a
series of long and short-term solutions. (The Lower House
passed this resolution following hearings on executive branch
performance dealing with terrorism and forwarded it to the
Palace. Karzai, in effect, ignored it, signaling his
rejection of parliamentary involvement in the executive
branch security decisions.
(SBU) President Karzai sent the Media Law bill, which
establishes protections and oversight for Afghan media and
publications, back to the Lower House for further
consideration (Ref), thereby avoiding either a veto or it
becoming law without his signature. (Parliament's legal
office is treating Karzai's rejection of bill as a veto,
which would require a two-thirds Lower House majority to
override. Speaker Qanooni highlights how difficult it will
be to muster the two-thirds vote needed to override a veto in
this case. He has highlighted to the international community
that he personally support media freedoms.)
(SBU) The Lower House has not completed debate on the
following four bills:
- Transit Fee Law bill, which establishes tolls inter-city
transit in Afghanistan. (The Lower House debated all but one
article of this bill pending an investigation into the
permissibility of fines under Sharia law.)
- Structure of Government Law bill, which defines the
structure of the Afghan Government. (The Lower House debated
all but one article of this bill, reserving their prerogative
to continue debate at a later date.)
- Law governing Demonstrations and Protests bill, which
defines police action towards demonstrators, and prohibits
participation in protests by the armed forces of Afghanistan.
(The Lower House approved all but one article of this bill,
reserving the right to continue debate at a later date.)
- Martyred and Disabled Law bill, which defines state aid to
martyrs. (The Lower House was unable to agree on a legal
definition for "martyr," a term generally used to refer to
victims of Soviet or Taliban actions.)
(SBU) The following 15 bills remain in the Upper House.
- Three separate agreements on Prisoner Extradition and
Exchange with Tajikistan, Iran, and Russia.
- Forensic Medicine Law bill is being reviewed by the Upper
House's Health Committee prior to general debate.
- The Political Parties Law bill, which establishes the
legality of political parties, is being reviewed by the Upper
House Women's Committee prior to general debate.
- Court Documents Fee Law bill, which establishes the cost of
obtaining legal documents in Afghan courts, is being reviewed
by the Upper House Judiciary Committee.
- Passport Law bill, which defines who has the right to
obtain a passport, is being reviewed by the Upper House
- Military Penal Code bill, which establishes the military
penal code, has not yet been assigned to an Upper House
committee for review.
- National Sciences Academy Law bill, which establishes a
national academy to register and review Afghan publications,
has not yet been assigned to an Upper House committee for
- Non-commissioned Officers in Military School bill, which
enables non-commissioned officers to attend military
academies, has not yet been assigned to an Upper House
committee for review.
- Legislative Cooperation Agreement Between Afghanistan and
Iran, which establishes a framework for legislative, economic
and cultural cooperation between Afghanistan and Iran, has
not yet been assigned to an Upper House committee for review.
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- Quarantine Agreement with Iran, which establishes norms for
transporting plants and animals across the Afghanistan-Iran
border, has not yet been assigned to an Upper House Committee
- Mines Law bill, which creates a legal framework for the
extraction of mineral resources, has not yet been assigned to
an Upper House committee for review.
- Labor Law bill, which regulates all labor in Afghanistan,
has not yet been assigned to an Upper House committee for
- Customs Law bill, which establishes customs fees and the
penalties for smugglers. (The Lower House approved this
bill, but some religiously-minded members voiced concerns
that levying fines to enforce a law is against Sharia law.
The Lower House sent the law to the Supreme Court, which
replied that the bill does not conflict with Sharia law. The
Lower House passed the bill to the Upper House, which has not
yet assigned it to a committee for review.)
(SBU) The Upper House amended the bill to create a police
reform commission and returned it to the Lower House for
further review. The Lower House Interior Committee is
currently considering Upper House changes to the bill. (The
two Houses will form a joint commission to negotiate a final
version of the bill before transmitting it to President
(SBU) Parliament's legal office has finished the final
version of a bill regarding the sale of Afghan land to
diplomatic missions. Legal office head Enaytullah Alamyar
had told us he intended to transmit the bill to President
Karzai after the start of the 2008 legislative session, which
began on January 21, but he has not yet transmitted the bill.