Kabul – May 23, 2021
Reporter: Belal Khodadad
Payk Investigative Journalism Center obtained documents that show that Dr. Shahwali Marufi, director of Department of Communicable Disease Control of the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), fired for alleged sexual harassment of a woman on an official trip abroad, has been reappointed and receives special pay based on unknown administrative workings. According to the documents, he now receives more than 250,000 afghanis monthly salary and is also accused of transferring and appointing individuals based on decrees instead of going through the open competition process, and personal use of government vehicles.
MOPH’s officials responsible for providing information, in a letter addressed to the Access to Information Commission and in response to Payk reporter’s access to information request, has written: “if need be, enough documents and detailed information will be provided on the matter.” But what they have written in response to seven specific points does not correspond to the obtained documents and Payk reporter’s questions. The ministry said that Mr. Marufi’s harassment case was a misunderstanding.
Dr. Shahwali Marufi, director of Department of Communicable Disease Control of the General Directorate of Preventive Medicine of the MOPH, traveled to Italy on official invitation of the World Health Organization (WHO) to attend an educational and academic workshop titled “Developing and Planning the Control of Tuberculosis”, from 18 to 27 November, 2013. A few days into this trip, the WHO, in an email and an official letter to Afghanistan’s MOPH, wrote: “Unfortunately, we were made aware that the head of the Department of Communicable Disease Control of this ministry, during his official visit on November 23, 2013, sexually harassed a female hotel worker, and was questioned by the local police due complaints of the said woman and the hotel manager. Mr. Marufi’s case has been referred to the court in Spinetta City.”
The letter also adds that Mr. Marufi left the hotel for an unknown destination at 5 am on November 25, instead of appearing before the court scheduled for November 27. Later it came to be known that he had returned to Afghanistan.
The WHO banned Mr. Maroufi from attending the workshop from November 23, and by sending this letter, asked the MOPH to follow the matter through local authorities.
At the same time, head of the Office of the Minister of Public Health, in an official letter (No. 284, dated 02/25/2014) to the Office of the President, has written: “In the light of the abovementioned points and preserving the national and international prestige of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, it is proposed that Dr. Shahwali Marufi be removed from office and legally questioned.
Hamid Karzai, the then President, at the end of the letter, ordered: “the dismissal of Dr. Shahwali Marufi, head of Department of Communicable Disease Control of the MOPH, is approved in accordance with the text of this letter.”
On March 25, 2014, the Recruitment Department of the Human Resources Directorate of the MOPH sent Mr. Marufi’s official dismissal letter to the General Directorate of Preventive Medicine and other departments of the ministry. However, Mr. Maroufi returned to his director’s position after sometime due to some unknown administrative workings.
According to the first paragraph of Article 24 of the Penal Code of Afghanistan, if an Afghan citizen commits an act abroad that is considered a crime under the provisions of this law, on his return to the country, he will be punished according to the provisions of this law, given that the act is punishable under the law of the country where the crime was committed.
However, the Attorney General’s Office, more than a month after the submission of the request for information form, did not provide any answer as to whether any criminal case had been registered against Mr. Marufi and, if yes, then what was the results of the investigation.
Officials of the MOPH called the allegation of sexual harassment a “misunderstanding” and said that this matter have been investigated by a joint fact-finding committee of the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IARCSC). And Mr. Marufi have been reappointed to his position in accordance with the proposal of the IARCSC and presidential decree.
Ministry officials have called Mr. Marufi’s previous dismissal letter “canceled”, but have not provided any official document or Mr. Marufi’s official reappointment letter.
IARCSC officials also emphasize that no official document regarding Mr. Marufi’s reappointment exist in this commission. Based on the documents, this has taken place during the presidency of Mr. Karzai, when Suraya Dalil was the minister of public health.
An ineffective position with high pay
The monthly salary table of the director and staff of the Department of Communicable Disease Control of the General Directorate of Preventive Medicine of the MOPH, a copy of which is published in this report, shows that Dr. Shahwali Marufi, in a grade two position, as department head and in charge of the “Strengthen and Developing the Prevention and Control of Malaria and Improving Health Situation in Afghanistan Project”, receives a salary of about 266 thousand afghanis.
Sources in the MOPH believe that Mr. Marufi’s work in this position is neither effective nor transparent, but ministry officials, without providing a documents, say that Mr. Marufi’s salary is being paid from the government’s involuntary budget with the donor’s agreement (Global Fund) and emphasize that the Ministry of Finance has also agreed to it.
However, the Ministry of Finance (MOF), in an official letter (No. 104, dated 01/20/2021, addressed to the MOPH, says: “regarding the payment of salaries to contract employees, departments are obliged to comply with the Budget Implementation Regulation. Monthly salaries of more than 250 thousand afghanis are not payable in any case, nor from the voluntary neither from involuntary budget of the government.
Mahboubeh Babri, head of the Provision of Information Department of the MOPH, in response to Payk reporter’s request for information from, wrote: “a committee on directors’ salaries have been established, the official letter of which will be sent to government agencies soon. As for Mr. Shahwali’s salary, it must be said that in addition to his 250,000 afghanis monthly salary an additional amount have also been paid to him as transportation money, which was later stopped.”
Mr. Maroufi’s official contract, which he signed with the Global Fund, an international organization, shows that the transportation costs are borne by the employee himself. Also, this department’s employees’ salary table for the month of Hamal (March-April) of this year shows that the additional amount has not been deducted from Mr. Marufi’s salary.
In response to Payk reporter’s email, Global Fund, the international organization, as donor and supporter of Afghanistan’s MOPH’s development projects, wrote: “since this is a matter involving government employees, we suggest that you take it up with the Ministry of Public Health.”
However, our follow-up attempts with the Ministries of Finance and Public Health on the matter did not receive an accurate and documented response.
Personal use of government vehicles
The director of the Department of Communicable Disease of the MOPH, abusing his official authority, has three vehicles with government plate numbers at his disposal. The Payk reporter obtained a video which shows that two of these vehicles are in the service of his family members and unknown other activities, and he uses the other vehicle for his personal and official business. The full details of these vehicles are available at the Payk Investigative Journalism Center. This report does not publish these details security reasons.
The video clip shows that Mr. Marufi’s driver takes his children to and from school.
One of Mr. Marufi’s drivers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, says that even on off days and nights he is at the service the director and his family. While he had just taken Mr. Marufi’s daughter to Afghan Turk School and is returning to take his son as well, says: “Why did he give my two-month development salary of 28,000 afghanis to someone else while I am the one at his and his family’s service day and night. This Ramadan eid, I was only paid six thousands afghanis. Why?”
Mr. Marufi refused to answer Payk reporter’s questions and these allegations.
Allegation of Interference in appointments and transfers
Based on the obtained documents, Dr. Muhammad Sami Nahzat, manager of the National Malaria and Leishmaniasis Control Program, on 01/20/2021, in addition to requesting leave, and to prevent any disruption in the day to day work of the department introduced Mr. Mohammad Shoaib Tamim, as caretaker manager of the Department of Epidemiology until his return. The leadership of the ministry had also approved the leave request and appointment of the caretaker manager.
After more than a month of Mr. Tamim working as caretaker manager, Dr. Shahwali Marufi, head of Department of Communicable Disease Control, sends an official letter to the General Directorate of Preventive Medicine of the MOPH, and proposes: “since Dr. Shoaib Tamim has been appointed based on a decree and his position can be announced, it is proposed that you introduce Dr. Mohammad Naiem Habib, the technical coordinator of the program, as the head of the National Malaria and Leishmaniasis Control Program, until the return of the program manager.”
The documents show that Mr. Habib has also been appointed based on a decree. He refused to comment on his appointment and being proposed as caretaker manager.
Based on an official letter of the General Directorate of Preventive Medicine addressed to the leadership and Human Resources Directorate of the MOPH on May 2016, Dr. Mohammad Naiem Habib and Dr. Suliman Noori, two employees of the National Malaria and Leishmaniasis Control Program, have been introduced without the P2 form of the open competition.
Paragraph six, Article 7 of the Regulation on Personal Affairs of Civil Servants, published on the Official Gazette No. 992, dated 07/23/2009 states: “a contract employee cannot be appointed as caretaker of a civil service position.”
In a latest official document related to administrative works of this ministry, the General Directorate of Preventive Medicine in an official letter (dated 02/19/2021) sent to all its sub departments, in accordance with presidential directive, states: “the positions of those employees who were appointed through a non-competitive process in 2020, should be announced for open competition. If these employees, appointed through a non-competitive process, have been working in a position for more than a year, they should be dismissed and their positions should be announced for open competition.”
Based on the information from the Human Resources Directorate of the MOPH, at the moment, as many as 620 employees (grades three to eight) of this ministry have been appointed through non-competitive process (based on decree), and as many as 16 employees are working as caretaker managers in out of grade and grades one, two and three positions.
MOPH officials emphasize that in order to fully implement the presidential directive, a delegation from the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has been appointed, the result of which would be announced after its work is completed.
However, the AGO did not respond to any of Payk reporters attempts to contact them, in a month’s time since this report was being developed.
The documents and information obtained by Payk, shows that in addition to being reappointed for unknown reasons, Mr. Marufi, abusing his authority, have acted discriminatingly in transferring and appointing his staff members.
A number of employees of the Communicable Disease Department of the MOPH claim that Mr. Marufi has cut off the monthly salary of 13 of them for whistleblowing, cooperating and disclosing this department’s information to media.
Idriss Zia, finance manager of the National Malaria and Leishmaniasis Control Program, tells Payk reporter: “Mr. Marufi suspects us of sharing department’s documents with media, so he has suspended the development salary of 13 employees including me, and had said that if this report is published you will not receive your salary.”
This protesting employee adds that Mr. Marufi has processed the salary table without his (finance manager) signature.
Basir Bahawar, another employee of this department, accused Mr. Marufi of discrimination based on ethnicity, claiming that he had been illegally dismissed and replaced by another person a few months ago. But he was able to return to his work after legally following up the matter and submitting documents.
Some legal experts and scholars of the country believe that every violation should be investigated in accordance with the provisions of the law. As the Penal Code of Afghanistan see abuse of official authority as a criminal offense.
The first and second paragraphs of Article 403 of Penal Code of Afghanistan, regarding the abuse of official authority, state: “if a public servant acts or does not carry out an act in violation of the law, for his own or other person’s benefit, has committed the crime of abusing authority and shall be sentenced to midterm imprisonment with a fine of 60 to 300 thousand afghanis. The perpetrator of the crime mentioned in the first paragraph of this article is also sentenced to removal from and disbarment from the profession.”