The participants in the press conference of the fifth monitor report demand the president and decision makers to act promptly to unify and reform the justice system on independent and professional basis
With the participation of over 260 official and civil personals, MUSAWA- the Palestinian Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession, in cooperation with Sawasya- Strengthening the rule of law in the state of Palestine, and with support from the Netherlands Representative office in Palestine, announced its Fifth Monitor Report, which represents the first comprehensive survey based on the widest database established with contribution of 16,000 citizens of nine community groups that are related and interested in the justice institutions and their performance. The results were announced during a press conference conducted by video conference in both Al-Bireh and Gaza in the Palestinian Red Crescent halls. The press conference included a keynote address by Mrs. Floor Nuiten, the Netherlands Deputy Representative Office, Mr. Christopher Decker, the head of Sawasya program, and Dr. Taleb Awad, the Chairman of MUSAWA, followed by setting out the survey’s methodology and implementation mechanisms starting from the preparation of the survey in cooperation with all competent official and civil parties, to the review of the criteria of choosing the participatory communities depending on the geographical distribution, sex, age, and other social factors, which separated the survey sample into nine groups, the general audience, the audience that had dealings with the justice system, law teachers, law students, trainee lawyers, practicing lawyers, prosecution member and sharia judges, was presented by Mr. Mustafa Khawaja, representative of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the party responsible of the field survey. The review was followed by a comprehensive explanation of the results of the Palestinian community’s views on the justice institutions and their performance, and then an open discussion started to take the views and recommendations of the conference’s audience, in light of the recommendations presented by the conference speakers, as follows:
- There is a need for an explicit and practical political will towards unifying the justice system in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as one unified, impartial, active, and independent judicial authority.
- Commencing to take all necessary measures guaranteeing the unification and reform of the justice system, with independent community participation.
- Applying the performance evaluation policy to everyone working in the justice system, as an effective tool to combat corruption and ensure the development of performance.
- Promoting the rule of law culture and respecting it as a credible alternative to conflicts resolutions apart of anarchy and chaos.
- Enforcing the principle of separation of powers to counteract the phenomenon of interference in the work of the justice systems’ institutions, and to account its perpetrators.
- Adopting incorrupt alternative conditions and mechanisms of the hiring and promotion of the justice system’s employees.
- Waiving the immunity of the ones accused of corruption, and to refer them to fair trials as it is vital for the success of the anti-corruption policy applied in the justice system institution.
- Empowering the institutional hierarchy and the professional code of conduct, and respecting the competencies and powers inside the justice system’s institutions, their relationships, and their relationship with the executive authority in a way that maintains the professional independence of these institutions and their employees, and ensure that they are only subjected to the law and conscience.
- On the academic level, identifying the weakness in scientific research’ phenomenon in the law colleges in Palestinian universities, which play a weak role in monitoring and developing legislation.
MUSAWA also recommend to the right holders for:
- The civil society institutions should identify the justice system’s reality as revealed in the fifth monitor report, and set out their priorities and visions of the actions that need to be taken against the barriers of justice in Palestine, and avoid solutions that could deepen the crises instead of resolving it.
- To pool the visions and efforts of the civil society institutions regarding the mechanism of unifying, reforming and developing the judicial system.
- To activate the CSO’s role in the embodiment of the rule of law, and enabling the citizens, especially the marginalized groups, to obtain their legal and constitutional rights, and introducing them to the legal means to protect their rights.
- We recommend the Palestinian Bar Association, the Ministry of High Education; the Universities’ managements take the practical actions needed to assess the levels of law students and graduates, who seek becoming lawyers after graduation.
- We recommend the Bar Association’s council activate the role of disciplinary councils and promote their professionalism in addressing any manifestation or practice that contradicts with the professional code of conduct, negatively affects the citizens’ trust in the association and blocks its mission of ensuring the access to justice. Disciplinary councils can address the mentioned problems by combating corruption, bribes, and patronage, while paying close attention to build the capacities of training lawyers, including reconsidering the training system and the relationship between training lawyers and practicing lawyers, the bodies of the official legal system and the agents.
- All competent bodies should promote reading and comparative research among those who work in the legal profession and conduct motivational events and activities.
Noting that MUSAWA will assume the responsibility of raising these recommendations to the competent officials in the justice system, attached with the comprehensive report and its executive summary, to demand, on behalf of the conference’s audience, the duty and decision holders to accelerate the process of adopting the policies, decisions, legislative, executive and administrative procedures that ensure the implementation of the mentioned recommendations in a faithful, practical, explicit, and publically announced manner. In addition, MUSAWA is going to conduct discussion sessions on the results of the fifth monitor report, and implement a number of activities depending on the results revealed by the report and the database it has, which is considered the widest and the first of its kind, which MUSAWA has made available for all researchers and people interested in the field.