The Internal Advertising on Appointing Magistrate's Judges at Regular Courts & The Vacant Post of the Director of the Justice Training Institute
His Excellency the head and members of the High Judicial Council/ Ramallah
Subject: 1- The Internal Advertising on Appointing Magistrate's Judges at Regular Courts
2- The Vacant Post of the Director of the Justice Training Institute
MUSAWA – The Palestinian Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession extends its warmest greetings to your Excellency, noting that the center has viewed the literal advertising on appointing magistrate’s judges at the regular court, which was widely disseminated through social media channels. MUSAWA was informed by reliable judicial sources that the advertising was issued according to a decision issued by your distinguished council. The adverting, on the other hand, provided for “The judicial authority announces its need to appoint a number of magistrate’s judges to work at regular court to meet the needs of settlement courts. The interested legal employees, who work at regular courts and the departments of the High Judicial Council, shall fill the application according to the conditions included in the advertising, which include that the applicant must meet the conditions provided in article 16 of the Judicial Authority Act, to have the needed legal experience on the work of regular courts or the work of the High Judicial Council’s department, noting that this expertise shall be at least 10 years of practice after being grated the Bachelor Degree in Law/ Rights. The applications must be handed in person to the department of Judges’ Affairs in the Secretariat of the High Judicial Council starting from 10/7/2019 till the closing time of 25/7/2019”.
As an objective watchdog organization, MUSAWA believes that it is its legal and professional obligation to ask your distinguished council to cancel the mentioned adverting and to consider it has never been made, as it violates the Basic Law and the Judicial Authority Act, which falls under advance recruitment and clearly breaches of the integrity and transparency rules of filling the public posts, especially the judicial kind of posts according to the following:
1. From MUSAWA’s point of view, the Advertising contradicts and violates article 9 of the basic law which provides for “Palestinians shall be equal before the law and the judiciary, without distinction based upon race, sex, color, religion, political views or disability”.
2. From MUSAWA’s point of view, the advertising contradicts and violates article 26 of the basic law which provides for “Palestinians shall have the right to participate in political life, both individually and in groups. They shall have the following rights in particular”, and its fourth paragraph which provides for “To hold public office and positions, in accordance with the principle of equal opportunities”.
•The mentioned advertising violated article 19 of the Judicial Authority Act, which restrictively defines the social categories that can fill judicial posts as it provides for “The following may be appointed judges in the Conciliation Courts, Courts of First Instance and Appeal, or members of the Public Prosecution:
(a) Former judges and members of the Public Prosecution.
(b) Lawyers. (Practicing lawyers who are licensed for law practice according to the provisions of the Bar Code, excluding trainee lawyers and the graduates of the law faculty to the faculty of judiciary and law, regardless of article 16 which provided in its general framework of terms that the applicant shall at least have a BA degree in law or judiciary & law”.
(c) Teaching staff of faculties of law and faculties of Shari’a and law, whereas the High Judicial Council shall issue general guidelines regarding the length of experience required for appointment from each category mentioned in the above Paragraph 1 and any other experience deemed comparable to a judicial function. (We believe that none of the employees, who fill judicial posts at the administrative departments of the courts or the High Judicial Council, falls under any of the categories mentioned in article 19).
•The advertising contradicts with the provisions of article 19 as mentioned above, as it confines the post to the employees of courts and departments of the High Judicial Council only, which we do not agree with nor believe it meets the law provisions, thus it represents a violation of the equality principle, which is guaranteed as a constitutional right regulated by article 9 of the Basic Law, and as guaranteed by all other constitutional principles, provisions, and by the texts of convections and intentional agreements signed by Palestine and to which it is bound.
•The mentioned advertising closes the door before the social categories mentioned in article 19 of the Judicial Authority Act, and constitute a serious impediment to the lawyers’ enjoyment of their right to apply to the position.
The principles of transparency, integrity and the right to stand for public office obliges to revise the advertising, which threats the community’s trust in the judiciary and paves the way for the judicial authority to intervene in it as it constitutes an advance appointment. MUSAWA expresses its shock against the wide dissemination of the advertising on social media channels.
As we reaffirm our profound respect for all the concerned parties, and our concern not to affect anyone, and as we maintain our right and duty to discuss the judiciary’s course of action and to express our opinion on it, and to prevent a widening of the gap between the judiciary, lawyers and the law academics, we recommend you to cancel it, to adhere to the decisions issued by your distinguished body, to follow the known procedures of the judicial recruitment competition and to declare it for all the categories included in the 19 article of the Judicial Authority Act, and to consider notifying some of them about the decision issued by the General Personnel Council in response to the president’s will to freeze the public posts appointments.
Second: The Post of the Director of the Justice Training Institute is still Vacant
According to information available to us, the post of the Director of the Justice Training Institute is still Vacant since 1/4/2019, or nearly three and a half months, noting that this institution plays a main role in developing the competencies of judges and prosecution members, and represents the official body that cares of graduating individuals who are qualified to fill judicial posts at the judiciary and the public prosecution, thus, its management shall be attributed to a judicial personality that meets the conditions for filling the post. In consonance with the professional standards, the Institute succeeded in fulfilling’s its mission, in achieving its goals, in strengthening its financial and administrative independence, and in adhering to its iterations obligations, including the cooperation agreement signed with the EU, we believe that this post shall be filled without any delay or impediment, otherwise, serious implications will arise and affect its role and relations, in addition to delaying the implementation of its training programs. MUSAWA is looking positively forward to your fast response regarding this issue.
We hope that you consider our memo, and respond to our calls to cancel the internal adverting on appointing magistrate’s judges at the regular court and to fill the vacant post of the Director of the Justice Training Institute as soon as possible, looking forward to enhancing the joint cooperation that embodies the principles of the rule of law and good governance.
With All Due Respect,
Issued on 10/7/2019
The Executive Manager