On December 1st 2017, the 4th annual Afghanistan National Vis Moot Competition was held in the Afghanistan Center for Dispute Resolution (ACDR). The competition was among 12 teams from different universities located in provinces across the country with the top three teams advancing to the regional competition. The arbitrators acting in this competition were both national and international attorneys, including Thomas Kraemer, Senior Counsel at Kakar Advocates. […]
Shabana Akbari, legal intern at Kakar Advocates, was one of the participants of this competition representing the American University of Afghanistan’s Vis team. Her team secured first place, best claimant memorandum award, and best oralist award. The selected teams will participate in the 8th Annual Willem C. Vis Middle East pre-moot in Bahrain, and the 15th Annual Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot in Hong Kong.
The Vis moot competition promotes the study of international commercial arbitration through the preparation and presentation of oral arguments by teams of students from universities across the world. Its goal is to train future lawyers in commercial arbitration by exposing law students to lengthy and complex litigation simulations. [Hide Details]
As part of our community service efforts, Kakar Advocates provided its services to an international non-profit organization on a pro-bono basis by revising the organization’s constitution to ensure that it does not conflict with Afghanistan’s laws and regulations. This is a reflection of Kakar Advocates’ commitment to community service and rule of law development in Afghanistan. We are proud to have a history of working with and providing legal services for non-profits of all sizes operating within Afghanistan.
On December 14th, Kakar Advocates held a gathering at Kabul Serena Hotel to celebrate ranking as a Band I Law Firm in the Chambers and Partners’ 2018 Asia-Pacific Guide. The event was attended by Afghan dignitaries, members of the Afghan business community, Afghan press, Kakar Advocates’ clients, representatives of UN agencies, and friends. […]
High-level Afghan Government officials at the event included, H.E. Minister Eklil Hakimi (Ministry of Finance), H.E. Minister Shahzad Aryobee (Ministry of Communication and Information Technology), H.E. Member of Parliament Abdul Qader Zazai (Kabul), H.E. Member of Parliament Amir Khan Yaar (Nangarhar), H.E. Deputy Minister Nematullah Haidari (Ministry of Public Works), H.E. Director-General Mahmood Shah Habibi (Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority), Mr. Ajmal Ahmady, Senior Advisor on Banking and Finance to H.E. President Ashraf Ghani, and Mr. Amir Hussaini, Political and International Relations Advisor to H.E. Second Vice President Sarwar Danish.
The event commenced with recitation of a passage from the Holy Quran. Following that, Mr. Kawun Kakar, Managing Partner, gave a speech, which focused on the firm’s history as well as its growth and success. Mr. Kakar also thanked everyone for their trust and continuous support of Kakar Advocates. Associate Attorney, Sara Balagh, and Senior Counsel, Thomas Kraemer, also spoke at the event regarding the importance of rule of law and how that has contributed to the success of firms in Afghanistan. In addition, H.E. MP Zazai spoke about the role that Kakar Advocates plays in ensuring people adhere to the laws in the country. Khwaga Kakar gave a short speech about the contributions Kakar Advocates has made to shaping Afghanistan’s legal framework. Following the speeches, guests were served lunch and given the opportunity to have informal discussions amongst each other.
We are grateful to our clients and partners for honoring us with the opportunity to work with them and for their generous feedback. The firm’s success is also a reflection of the strengthening of the rule of law in the country and the Afghan Government’ efforts to improve the legal framework and the business climate for private investment. We will continue to provide quality services but also expand our practice areas to meet growing demands in emergent sectors. [Hide Details]
On December 20th, 2017, a delegation from the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), including the Chief Executive Officer of ACB, Shafiqullah Stanikzai, and the Chairman of ACB, Shukrullah Atif Mashal, visited Kakar Advocates’ office to sign a retainer agreement marking the beginning of a relationship in which Kakar Advocates will serve as the ACB’s counsel for its legal needs. The relationship is another indication of the firm’s growing reputation as a top tier law firm able to provide legal services at all levels. We look forward to working along with ACB and providing them excellent service.
On December 31st, 2017, His Excellency President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani issued a decree ordering all Afghan ministries and government offices who share responsibility for issuing business licenses, to fall within a “One Stop Shop” under the auspices of the Central Business Registry of Ministry of Commerce. For the initial implementation of this decree, all ministries and government offices involved in the licensing process, are instructed to introduce a representative to the Central Business Registry. The Central Business Registry is also responsible to prepare a comprehensive procedure for full implementation of this concept. […]
The ministries and government offices listed in this decree are 1) Ministry of Interior, 2) Ministry of Higher Education, 3) Ministry of Education, 4) Ministry of Justice, 5) Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, 6) Ministry of Economy, 7) Ministry of Transport, 8) Ministry of Public Health, 9) Ministry of Labor, Martyrs, and Disabled, 10) Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology, 11) Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, 12) Ministry of Energy and Water, 13) Ministry of Information and Culture, 14) Ministry of Finance, 15) Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, 16) National Environmental Protection Agency, 17) Central Bank, 18) Municipality, 19) Telecom Regulatory Authority, and 20) Afghan Civil Aviation Authority.
The purpose of this decree is to attract investment and to facilitate and simplify the licensing process. Kakar Advocates will continue to monitor developments and keep abreast of all procedural changes. [Hide Details]
Kakar Advocates reminds all of its friends that the Afghan fiscal year ended on December 20th, 2017. Annual income tax returns for 2017 must be filed no later than March 20, 2018 to avoid penalties and late fees.
We again remind everyone that no company or organization is considered tax exempt by the Ministry of Finance. Certain contracts or projects may be tax exempt, but only if a tax exemption has been applied for and a tax exemption certificate has been received from the Afghanistan Revenue Department. Even if all of your contracts and projects in Afghanistan have been certified as tax exempt, you still have certain tax obligations, including the filing of an annual income tax return, and you still may (and likely will) be audited by the tax office.
Obtaining a tax clearance can take weeks, or even months, particularly if you file your tax return close to the deadline. We urge everyone to submit their tax return as early as possible, particularly if you anticipate needing to renew your business license, change officers, or make other organizational changes. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and a free consultation.
The Hydrocarbons Law (“Law”) was recently enacted in order to regulate hydrocarbons operations to better preserve and utilize hydrocarbons within Afghanistan, and simultaneously attract investors and investments to the sector. Any hydrocarbons operation must be conducted with permission from the government because hydrocarbons within Afghanistan are the exclusive property of the State. Such authorization can be obtained through a license in accordance with the Law. […]
The Law calls for the creation of the Afghanistan Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (AOGRA), which will be responsible for implementing the Law, with oversight and coordination from the Cabinet, the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, and the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum. In an effort to increase transparency, the Law requires that an office be setup within AOGRA that will be responsible for registering all operations relating to hydrocarbons. A useful map will be created that illustrates all areas that are 1) under contract, 2) to be tendered in the future, and 3) restricted. In addition to the map, the office is required to maintain copies and be able to produce all contracts that have been executed concerning the licenses or other hydrocarbons activity.
Of further potential use to private investors and the general public, for upstream hydrocarbons operations, the Law stipulates the creation of a Hydrocarbons Data Bank in line with international standards that contains geophysical and geological information, data, and reports concerning exploration and production.
The Law lays out three types of Contracts for Upstream Hydrocarbons Operations:
Exploration and Production Sharing Contracts: Permits the Contractor to explore for hydrocarbons in accordance with the Contract and, in the event of a commercial discovery, to develop and produce hydrocarbons, in accordance to this Law, and the Contractor shall be entitled to the specified share from the hydrocarbons produced.
Service and Production Sharing Contracts: Grants the Contractor the exclusive operating right to upgrade and rehabilitate hydrocarbons production facilities, including well-servicing operations, the provision of services and the production of hydrocarbons in accordance with the provisions of this Law, and the Contractor shall be entitled to the specified share from production.
Contracts for Geological/Geophysical/Geochemical Services: Grants the right to conduct geological, geophysical and geochemical services in an identified area in accordance with the provisions of this Law and the Contract, provided that the identified area is not within the contract area of another contract.
In addition, Contracts for Midstream Hydrocarbons Operations grant the right to construct pipelines and associated facilities (e.g. pumping stations, storage tanks or valves) and to carry out hydrocarbons storage and transportation operations.
Any person interested in importing hydrocarbons, including petroleum products, into Afghanistan must first obtain an Import License. It is important to note that all licences in relation to the importation of hydrocarbons or petroleum products into Afghanistan granted under any other law before this Law entering into force will expire nine (9) months after the establishment of AOGRA.
In an effort to boost employment and skilled workers, the Law emphasizes the need and importance of contractors employing and training Afghan nationals for their operations. Certain exceptions allowing the employment of foreign labor are available.
The bidding process and award process, as well as who is eligible to bid for contracts, are explained in the Law. Additionally, compliance requirements for contractors in regards to record keeping, safety, environmental, and accounting obligations are also detailed in the Law. Any person currently working in or interested in pursuing hydrocarbons operations within Afghanistan can contact Kakar Advocates for further details and analysis in navigating and complying with the Law. [Hide Details]
The Law on Declaration and Registration of Assets of State Officials and Employees was adopted through Presidential Decree No. 154. This Law is enacted pursuant to Articles 64.16 and 79 of the Constitution of Afghanistan.
The purpose of the Law is to provide a system for assessment and registration of the assets of high government officials, government employees, members of Parliament and provincial councils, in order to prevent officials from misusing their authority to illegally increase their assets. The Office of Declaration and Registration of Assets (“Office”) is responsible for the enforcement of the Law. The Law further declares that the Office is authorized to assess and register assets of high government officials before and after the period of their service, and to publicize the information on its official website.
If any government official or government employee refuses to declare his or her assets, the Office is authorized by the Law to suspend their salary and other financial rights.
The Law can be accessed in Official Gazette issue No. 1271 dated October 2017.
On November 20th, 2017, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, asked for judicial authorization to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan. This marks the first time that an ICC prosecutor has made such a request with respect to Afghanistan.
The ICC was established in 2002 to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide across the globe. The Court can only prosecute individuals, not entities, under its jurisdiction. After Afghanistan signed the Rome Statute in 2003, the ICC gained authority to prosecute the following crimes within Afghan territory:
Crimes against humanity
War Crimes, including:
Use of Child Soldiers
Extra-Judicial Execution […]
Since 2003 none of the crimes under the ICC jurisdiction have been prosecuted in Afghanistan even though the country has been plagued by insurgency and terrorism from multiple organizations on an almost continuous basis.
The ICC did attempt to investigate war crimes within Afghanistan earlier, when in November 2016 the ICC Office of the Prosecutor announced that it would make a final decision on whether to ask the Pre-Trial Chamber for authorization to open an investigation on war crimes and crimes against humanity in the country. Ultimately the decision was postponed because the Afghan Government asked the ICC to delay its decision for one more year due to the concern that such an investigation could potentially undermine the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan.
The Afghan Government has previously conveyed its commitment to the ICC regarding its willingness to hold the perpetrators criminally accountable for crimes against humanity and war crimes. For instance, the government sent two packages of potential cases to the ICC in 2017 that included war crimes, murder, sexual abuse and torture of war prisoners committed by insurgents and Afghan military forces.
Furthermore, the recently-enacted New Penal Code of Afghanistan also criminalizes crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in consistency with the ICC’s Statute. The legislative steps taken by the Afghan Government provide further assurance about the prosecution of criminals falling under the ICC jurisdiction within the country.
As a result of Ms. Bensuoda’s request for authorization, the victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated in Afghanistan since 2003 can send their comments to the Pre-Trial chamber of the ICC. The ICC Justices will consider whether an investigation of such crimes should then be commenced. [Hide Details]
The Regulation on Managing Activities of the Board for Protection of Rights of Writer, Author, Artist and Researcher was endorsed through a presidential decree in accordance with Article 44 of the Law on Protecting the Rights of Writer, Author, Artist and Researcher. This Regulation was published on November 29th, 2017 in Official Gazette No. 1274. The Regulation is enacted to achieve the following objectives:
Regulating the activities of the Board responsible for implementing the Law on Protecting the Rights of Writer, Author, Artist, and Researcher.
Providing further protection to writers, authors, artists, and researchers.
Investigating violations of the Law.
Investigating complaints received and providing a solution for the related disputes. […]
The implementing authority for this Regulation is the Ministry of Information & Culture. The Board of Protection is responsible for investigating complaints regarding provisions of this Regulation. The Board will adopt its decisions in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Law, Regulation, and other pertinent procedures. After the Board makes its preliminary decision on a dispute, either party can ask the Board to review its decision. If, after the Board issues its revised decision, and either of the parties is still dissatisfied, the dissatisfied party can appeal to a competent court. [Hide Details]
Limited legal awareness makes it difficult for the citizens of Afghanistan to effectively and actively engage in the legislative process, dialogue, and advocacy. Kakar Advocates, in an attempt to enhance the ability of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) s to monitor the legislation process, advocates actively in law reform and support dialogues between the CSOs and the law reform agencies in Afghanistan. As a result of this process, Kakar Advocates has produced six Legislative Commentaries on the draft Family Law, Cybercrimes Law, Child Rights Protection Law, Electronic Transaction Law, Anti-Harassment Law and the draft Elimination of Violence against Women Law.
The Commentaries provide a comprehensive analysis of the recent legislative developments and insight into the current legislative process in Afghanistan. Commentaries can be accessed on our website.
15,000 metric tons of wheat was delivered to Afghanistan from India via the Chabahar Port in Iran, making the long-anticipated sea route formally operational. Government officials deemed the arrival of wheat grant from India though Chabahar port as a new chapter of cooperation among Afghanistan, India and Iran. Previous wheat shipments reached Afghanistan via sea through Bandar Abass seaport of Iran and the Karachi seaport of Pakistan, but the use of Chabahar port reduces the distance and provides another option to import goods into the country. […]
India is expected to deliver an estimated of 110,000 tons of wheat to Afghanistan through Chabahar by February. The Indian government has promised a total of 1.1 million tons of wheat to Afghanistan on a grant basis.
Afghan, Iranian, and Indian government officials expressed optimism and lauded the sea route through Chabahar port as a significant step in forging stronger ties among the three countries and an economic boon for the region. [Hide Details]
On December 12th, 2017, United States Ambassador John Bass presented his credentials to President Ghani during an official ceremony at the Office of the President. Ambassador Bass most recently served as the US Ambassador to Turkey from 2014. He was selected by President Trump this year to be the Ambassador to Afghanistan. As a career Foreign Service Officer, Ambassador Bass has more than three decades of experience in diplomatic service. Previously he has served as Ambassador to Georgia (2009-2012), and has held various diplomatic positions in U.S. missions in Iraq, Italy, Belgium, and Chad. […]
At the official ceremony, Ambassador Bass remarked, “it was an honor to present my credentials to President Ghani today…I look forward to working with the Afghan government, as well as with all the people of Afghanistan, to continue to build a peaceful, secure, and prosperous future.”
Ambassador Bass succeeds U.S. Special Chargé d’Affaires Hugo Llorens, who completed his assignment on November 16. [Hide Details]
On December 11th, 2017 the Afghan government signed new contracts with Kalpataru Power Transmission Limited and KEC International Limited, private firms from India, for the execution of two major power projects, including the CASA-1000 power transmission line installation. The Afghanistan portion of the CASA-1000 transmission line is valued at $267.16 million. The World Bank will fund the project and the construction is expected to begin in 2018. The CASA-1000 project is set to be completed in three years. According to Office of the President, the CASA-1000 power transmission line will have a length of 765 kilometers of which 563 kilometers will pass through Afghanistan. […]
The project will supply 1,300 megawatts of electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan. 300 megawatts of power will be delivered to Afghanistan and the rest will be transmitted to Pakistan via Afghanistan. Afghanistan will receive an estimated USD 50 million annually by providing transit of power to Pakistan.
Furthermore, the related infrastructure projects that will be constructed along the transmission lines are valued at USD 40 million and will generate employment opportunities for the local economy.
The Office of the President says the CASA-1000 project will benefit an estimated 600 villages, 23 districts, and 6 provinces primarily in the east and north of Afghanistan. [Hide Details]
Lapis Lazuli Corridor Agreement is a trade and transit agreement between five nations that seeks to increase regional economic cooperation and connectivity between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. The Agreement seeks to improve transport infrastructure between the five countries, to increase exports to Europe, and expand upon the cultural and economic links between Europe and Asia. The name of the Corridor is derived from the historic trade route that Afghanistan’s Lapis Lazuli and other semi-precious stones were exported on to the Caucasus, Russia, Balkans, and the rest of Europe. […]
The Lapis Lazuli Corridor will begin in Afghanistan’s northern province of Faryab and western province of Herat and will run through to Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan. From there the Corridor will cross the Caspian Sea and will link the Azerbaijani capital Baku to Tbilisi and Georgia’s Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti. The Corridor will then connect with Kars in eastern Turkey before linking to Istanbul and Europe.
The Agreement was finalized after three years of talks and was signed during the 7th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA VII) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
This agreement will benefit Afghanistan in the following ways:
The signing of the Agreement will significantly contribute to the development of cooperation between the members of the project in the areas of trade and transport.
The Lapis Lazuli Corridor will provide Afghanistan a more cost efficient transportation medium to deliver Afghan goods to Europe.
The Lapis Lazuli Corridor will reduce Afghanistan’s dependency on neighboring countries in terms of transit and transportation.
Ahmad Massud Ekram joined Kakar Advocates in November 2017 as a Government Relations Officer. Ahmad brings with him eight years of experience with non-government organizations in the fields of Administration and Finance. In his previous positions he has served as an Education Management Information System Officer with Save the Children, as an Information Officer for Mercy Corps, and as a Regional Admin Finance Officer for UNOPS. Ahmad has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University and a Master’s in Business Administration (Finance) Degree from Modern Institute of Management. He has also undergone professional level training in Admin/Secretary skills, IT and Database Management and has direct experience liaising with government agencies and foreign companies in Afghanistan.
Shabana Akbari has recently joined Kakar Advocates as a legal intern. She is currently studying Law at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF). At AUAF, Shabana was selected to be a part of the the Vis Moot Court team due to her strong oral and written legal skills. She assists the team in researching law, drafting scholarly commentaries, and maintaining various calendars and databases. Her academic experience also includes acting as a committee organizer and later as co-chair for the Parliament Committee of Kabul University International Model United Nations. Prior to attending AUAF, Shabana was very active in competing in national and international competitions as well as charity programs.
KAKAR ADVOCATES is a full-service law firm based in Kabul, Afghanistan, with U.S. and Afghan licensed attorneys representing prominent international and national clients.
“Standout firm providing a wide range of commercial services, including legislative, tax and labor advisory work…with solid expertise across sectors such as aviation, telecommunications and mining. Clients benefit from its impressive bench of Afghan and internationally qualified lawyers.”
– Chambers Asia-Pacific, 2018
“This standout firm provides a wide range of commercial services, including legislative, tax and labor advisory work for foreign contractors and insurance companies. The team works closely with offshore international counsel on both major projects and general corporate advisory matters.”