Are official Authorities Making Serious Efforts?
During a meeting organized by MUSAWA at the substantive office of the Justice Palace in Gaza, trainee lawyers expose the reality of training programs and declare their demands.
MUSAWA, the Palestinian Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession, held a meeting to engage in an open and crosscutting dialogue meeting between 50 trainee lawyers, including 17 female trainee lawyers, on their understanding of the reality of training, the challenges facing trainee lawyers in Gaza, and on their demands that shall be promptly addressed by the Palestinian Bar association, the High Judicial Council, the Public Prosecution, the Sharia High Judicial Council, and the training Lawyers, as meeting those demands contributes to achieving the goals of training, and to building qualified legal personas. The meeting was held on July 14, 2019, at the substantive office hall at the Justice Palace in Gaza.
The meeting was initiated by Adv. Rula Mousa, the Legal Monitoring Officer at MUSAWA, who identified the goals of the meeting, which is opt to be an open mic activity that opens the door for trainee lawyers to discuss both their reality and demands, in an attempt to preserve their human dignity, and to help them acquire ethical legal mindsets, which shall enable them to perform their duties and achieve their visions professionally. During the ensuing discussion, the trainee lawyers presented many statements on their reality and their demands, and Adv. Ziad Al-Najar, the Secretary of the Palestinian Bar Association, presented a paper that addresses the trainee lawyers’ duty to improve their selves and enhance their legal capacities, and the trainer lawyers’ duty to provide trainee lawyers’ with the tools conducive to qualify them for moving to the practical judicial life, for protecting their clients, and for achieving the professional and social judicial vision. In the same context, Adv. A-Najar demonstrated that the Palestinian Bar Association did not cancel the financial fees imposed by the Training System No.1 of 2004, stressing that the General Assembly of the Palestinian Bar Association is solely competent to amend the Fines System and the Fines Installment System.
In his turn, Adv. Ziad Thabet, the Head of the Inspection Department at the High Judicial Council, pointed out that trainee lawyers are part of the judicial system as they are members of the Palestinian Bar Association, and that the Judiciary enables trainee lawyers to appear before courts and plead duly, in addition to enabling the to visit the judicial departments to carry out the work of their trainers, while bringing to light, what he called, the recommendations of the High Judicial Council and its Substantive Office, on providing trainee lawyers with positive guidance and granting them the opportunity to gain work experience.
Then Dr. Said Al-Jabein, the Judge of the Sharia Supreme Court and the Head of the Sharia Judicial Inspection Department, stated that the Sharia Training System is limited to a training course and an exam, and mentioned that the Sharia Judicial Inspection Department has not received any complaints from any of its Sharia trainee lawyers, even though the relationship between Regular lawyers and Regular Trainee Lawyers is stronger than that between Sharia lawyers with a Sharia Trainee Lawyers.
At the end of the meeting, the audience agreed on the following demands and recommendations:
1. To revise and address the basis and determinants of the relationship between both Trainer and Trainee Lawyers aiming at breaking it out of competition and hostility to cooperation and teamwork in adherence to the due process of the professional code of ethics, and to activate the monitoring role of the Palestinian Bar Association and its competent committees to ensure that.
2. To encourage Trainer Lawyers to provide the sufficient requirements of building the legal personality of trainee lawyers and escalating their judicial talent on both the theoretical and practical levels, by the Association’s adoption of the regulations that would guarantee and monitor that.
3. To prohibit Trainer Lawyers from using Trainee Lawyers as administrative correspondents or else, they shall be held accountable.
4. To obligate Trainer Lawyers to enable their Trainee Lawyers of representing them in the Litigation proceedings of to the files they carrying out throughout their training, and not to limit the advocated representation to paperwork and administrative procedures.
5. To activate Trainer Lawyers’ supervision over the performance of Trainee Lawyers and to provide them with all the key arguments and requests needed while representing their trainers before court, which shall enable Trainee Lawyers to realize the requirements of presenting witnesses, discussing them, presenting and responding to arguments and defenses, in addition to preparing final pleads and presenting them before courts.
6. To demand the High Judicial Council and the Judicial Inspection Department to issue instructions that ensure that the personnel of the Execution Departments, District Prosecutions, Public Prosecution, Police Departments, and Detention Centers respect the safeguards for the right of the defense in their interaction with Trainee Lawyers in the same way as Trainer Lawyers.
7. To reconsider the training system in terms of experience years and the number of Trainee Lawyers per Trainer lawyer, in an attempt to face the increase in the number of Trainee Lawyers, and to start establishing a training center for both Trainee and Trainer lawyers, in prompt cooperation with the Palestinian Bar Association, the Ministry of Higher Education, the Higher Judicial Council, the Sharia Higher Judicial Council, and the Public Prosecution.
8. To prohibit the exploitation of Trainee Lawyers, to prevent paying money in exchange of training or else, the Trainer Lawyer will be held accountable, to prohibit assigning Trainee Lawyers to any tasks that are not provided by the law and the training system under the supervision of the Palestinian Bar Association through its competent committees, which shall refer Trainer Lawyers, who are proved to have asked trainee lawyers for financial compensations, or assigned them to unlawful tasks, to the Disciplinary Council, and shall hold them accountable.
9. The Public Prosecution and the Palestinian Bar Association should amend the training system requiring Trainer Lawyers to provide trainee lawyers with monthly stipends, transportation allowances and other judicial expenses paid by trainee lawyers during the proceedings of the files they were carrying out.
10. The General Assembly of the Palestinian Bar Association shall amend the training system in term of fees, exempting Trainee Lawyers from demurrage and lowering the outstanding financial benefits imposed on them.
11. The General Assembly of the Palestinian Bar Association shall amend the training system in a manner that allows Trainee Lawyers to complete their studies while working in the judicial field within specific controls, including the working hours and types of work instead of the current provisions that prohibit such choice.
12. The Council of the Palestinian Bar Association shall reconsider and revise the training programs to ensure that they contribute to developing the trainee lawyers’ theoretical and practical capacities.
13. The Council of the Palestinian Bar Association shall activate its supervision over the performance of the Admission to the Practice of Law Commissions to ensure that the submitted researches devoid of plagiarism and repetition, and that they relate to our legal, judicial, and national status quo.
14. The Council of the Palestinian Bar Association shall activate the role of it supervision commissions to monitor the relationship between trainer and trainee lawyers, and shall substitute the system of Hosting Lawyers with a memorandum of understating signed by the Palestinian Bar Association, the higher judicial Council, and the Public Prosecution enabling trainee lawyers to be trained by them as hosting parties within certain regulations and under the supervision of Trainer Lawyers, judges, and prosecution members.
15. To activate the accountability tools used against Trainer and Trainee Lawyers who breach the professional code of conduct of the legal profession.
16. The Palestinian Bar association shall establish a committee for Trainee Lawyers as part of the Association’s hierarchy, noting that its members shall be elected by the trainees themselves, and shall assume the responsibility of following up with the trainees’ affairs before the Palestinian Bar association and its different committees.
MUSAWA hopes that the Palestinian Bar Association Council, the Public Prosecution, the High Judicial Council, the Sharia High Judicial Council, the Law Faculties, and the Ministry of Higher Education will seriously consider these demands and requests, and address them by taking the needed legal actions to achieve them as soon as possible, noting that MUSAWA will contact the competent official bodies, including the Palestinian Bar Association, to cooperatively work on achieving the aforementioned fair demands.