Afghanistan - Law guide - (2023)

This is an overview of an internet research on legislation in Afghanistan (as of December 2018). This overview aims to serve as a starting point to facilitate the research into legal texts. However, it should not replace independent verification of the different legal texts as to their currency, validity and accuracy. Please also bear in mind that official translations of legal texts only exist in rare cases.

Please note that Swedish texts contained in this law guide were translated using translation tools. Therefore there is an increased risk that these translations may contain inaccuracies.

Researching Laws

The website of the Afghan Ministry of Justice contains a database of legislative texts in Dari and Pashto:

The Afghanistan Legal Documents Exchange Center (ALDEC), a website funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and operated by the Afghanistan Rule of Law Project (ARoLP), provides a number of legislative texts in English, Dari and Pashto:

The Database of national labour, social security and related human rights legislation (NATLEX), operated by the UN agency International Labour Organization (ILO), contains a number of legislative texts in Dari under the heading "General Provisions", as well as some English translations:

The Refworld database, operated by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), provides the option to search for English translations of some legislative texts:

To access the collection of national laws for Afghanistan on, please follow this link.


The website of the Afghan President's Office contains the Constitution of Afghanistan in Dari, ratified on 26 January 2004:

An unofficial English translation of the Constitution can be found on the same website:

  • The Constitution Of The Islamic Republic Of Afghanistan, adopted on 3 January 2004, ratified on 26 January 2004, unofficial English translation (available on the website of the Office of the President of Afghanistan)

Another unofficial translation of the Constitution adopted on 3 January 2004 is available on Refworld:

A website of the Center for Strategic & Regional Studies (CSRS), an independent NGO based in Kabul, contains an entry dated January 2018 stating that:

„The current Afghan constitution, which is a result of the Bonn Accords, is the eighth constitution of Afghanistan. […] The current constitution was prepared after the collapse of the Taliban regime and with the establishment of the new regime in the country. This constitution has been approved by a Loya Jirga in 12 chapters and 162 Articles and it was signed by Hamid Karzai on 6 Dalw 1382 [solar year and month; 26. Jänner 2004].” (CSRS, 13 January 2018)

Criminal Code

The website of the Afghan Ministry of Justice contains the Penal Code in Dari and Pashto, published in the Official Gazette on 15 May 2017:

The Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization (APPRO) describes itself as an independent research institute based in Kabul, which is registered as a non-governmental organization with the Afghan Ministry of Economic Affairs. In a July 2018 report APPRO states as follows:

„Afghanistan’s Penal Code was revised and officially Gazetted in an extraordinary issue (1260) on May 15, 2017 by the Presidential Decree No. 256, pursuant to Article 79 of the Constitution. Nine months after its promulgation, during which judges and attorneys had an opportunity to become acquainted with the new provisions, the Penal Code came into force on February 14, 2018. Apart from incorporating new laws and provisions such as crimes against humanity and war crimes, the revised Penal Code has also attempted to incorporate all criminal laws and decrees of Afghanistan into one Penal Code (in almost 800 pages in Dari and Pashto languages).” (APPRO, July 2018, p. 5)

An unofficial English translation of the Criminal Code of 2017 could not be found. Only a translation of the Penal Code of 1976, which is no longer valid, could be found (Penal Code [Afghanistan], adopted on 22 September 1976).

Criminal procedure code

A November 2018 report submitted by the Afghan government and published by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) states that the Afghan Criminal Procedure Law was ratified in 2014 (Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 13 November 2018, paragraph 105). According to a November 2017 report by the International Criminal Court, the country's Criminal Procedure Law was updated by the Afghan government in 2014 (International Criminal Court, 20 November 2017, paragraph 273). The website of the Afghan Ministry of Justice contains a version of the Criminal Procedure Law in Dari and Pashto, including an amendment to Article 27, which was published in the Official Gazette on 5 May 2014:

In a November 2015 report, the international human rights organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) mentions an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Law by presidential decree in September 2015 (HRW, 15 November 2015). According to an article published in January 2016 by Lenny Linke and Kate Clark of the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), an independent, non-profit research organisation headquartered in Kabul, a presidential decree (Decree 76) supplementing the Criminal Procedure Law was approved on 25 September 2015 and published in the Official Gazette (No. 1190) on 19 October 2015. Consequently the decree entered into force and was added to the law as Annex No. 1 (AAN, 21 January 2016). In an April 2017 article Kate Clark states that the amendment of the Criminal Procedure Law was initially adopted on 19 October 2015 in the form of Presidential Decree No. 76 and was later adopted again by Parliament on 11 May 2016 including amendments (AAN, 24 April 2017).

The above-mentioned Official Gazette No. 1190, which contains the October 2015 supplement (Annex No. 1) to the Criminal Procedure Law of 5 May 2014, can be found on the following website of the Afghan Ministry of Justice. The annex contains provisions on terrorist crimes and crimes against the internal and external security of the country. (Official Gazette No. 1190 also contains a law on the use of pesticides in agriculture. The Criminal Procedure Law of May 2014, to which Annex No. 1 refers, can be found at the link above):

No further information could be found on the above-mentioned version of Annex No. 1.

Neither an English translation of Annex 1 nor an English translation of the Criminal Procedure Law of May 2014 could be found.

Citizenship Law

The following Refworld link provides the Law on Citizenship in Dari, first published in 1986 and amended by the Taliban in 2000:

An unofficial English translation is also available on Refworld:

In a July 2018 query response the Country of Origin Information Unit “Staatendokumentation” of the Austrian Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum quotes a lawyer from Kabul as saying that the Law on Citizenship of 2000 was still in force. (BFA Staatendokumentation, 9 July 2018)

The Centre for Country Information and Analysis in the Field of Migration of the Swedish Migration Authority (Migrationsverket) provides information on the legal situation concerning citizenship in a report published in January 2018. According to the report, the first law on this subject was passed in 1936. A new law on citizenship was announced in 1986 and an amended version of this law was adopted during the Taliban regime in June 2000. The law of 1936 and the law of 2000 were largely based on the same principles and were therefore more or less identical. However, there were also significant differences, including in the regulation of children's citizenship. There was partial disagreement as to which of the laws should be applied, but according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the 2000 law is currently in force. An Afghan lawyer, contacted by the Norwegian Country of Origin Information Centre Landinfo in 2015, also confirmed the validity of the 2000 law:

„Afghanistans första medborgarskapslag antogs 1936. En ny lag kungjordes 1986 vilken sedan reviderades under Taliban-styret i juni 2000. De två lagarna bygger på samma principer och mycket av innehållet är identiskt. Det finns också betydande skillnader, bland annat regleringen av barns medborgarskap (se avsnitt 3.2.1). Lagen från år 2000 är mer detaljerad och reglerar frågor som var oreglerade i lagen från 1936. Det råder viss oenighet om vilken lag som gäller, men enligt United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) är det lagen från 2000 som gäller och lagen från 1936 är upphävd. Även en afghansk jurist som Landinfo varit i kontakt med gör bedömningen att det är lagen från 2000 som är den gällande. I denna rapport refereras därför till medborgarskapslagen från 2000.“ (Migrationsverket, 24. Jänner 2018, S. 6)


(Sources accessed on 3 January 2019)

  • AAN – Afghanistan Analysts Network: Casting a Very Wide Net: Did Ghani just authorise interning Afghans without trial? (authors: Lenny Linke; Kate Clark), 21 January 2016
  • AAN – Afghanistan Analysts Network: Torture as Prevalent as Ever: New UN report finds no end to impunity for Afghan torturers (author: Kate Clark), 24 April 2017
  • APPRO - Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization: New Penal Code and EVAW Law: To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate?, July 2018
  • BFA Staatendokumentation: Anfragebeantwortung der Staatendokumentation zu Afghanistan: Staatsbürgerschaft des Kindes bei Eltern mit unterschiedlichen Staatsangehörigkeiten, 9 July 2018 (login required)
  • CSRS – Center for Strategic & Regional Studies: A glimpse to the implementation and violation of the Afghan constitution, 13 January 2018
  • HRW - Human Rights Watch, Afghanistan: Reject Indefinite Detention Without Trial, 15 November 2015
  • International Criminal Court: Situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (No.: ICC-02/17), 20 November 2017
  • Migrationsverket – Swedish Migration Authority: Temarapport: Afghanistan - Medborgarskap, folkbokföring och identitetshandlingar, 24 January 2018
  • Penal Code [Afghanistan], issue number 13, file number 347, unofficial English translation, adopted on 22 September 1976, published on 7 October 1976 (available on Refworld)
  • Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan: National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 16/21; Afghanistan [A/HRC/WG.6/32/AFG/1] (published by HRC – UN Human Rights Council), 13 November 2018

Cite as:

ACCORD - Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation: Afghanistan Law Guide, January 2019


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