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Administrative Justice in Palestine: Reality and Aspirations

On 30 April 2013, the Faculty of Law and Public Administration and Institute of Law (IoL) at Birzeit University organised a workshop on Administrative Justice in Palestine: Reality and Aspirations. Shedding light on the reality of administrative justice in Palestine,

the workshop explored requirements for further development and best administrative justice paradigm with a view to contribute to reforming public administration and promoting protection of public rights and freedoms. The event was held in the presence of Professor Khalil Hindi, President of Birzeit University; His Excellency Justice Farid Jallad, Chairman of the High Judicial Council (HJC); His Excellency Mr. Ali Muhanna, Minister of Justice; Mr. Abdul Ghani al Uweiwi, the Attorney General; and Advocate Hussein Shabanah, Chairman of the Palestinian Bar Association (PBA). In addition to members of the legal community and representatives of interested institutions, the workshop brought together judges, members of the Public Prosecution, and academics specialising in administrative justice.

In his opening statement, Professor Hindi stated that the workshop was one in a series of activities which Birzeit University delivered through tailored academic and community-oriented programmes. By this role, the University contributes to consolidating the rule of law and judicial independence. It further empowers the justice sector as a foundation of good governance, legal development, and institution building of the independent State of Palestine:
Paying special attention to the Judicial Authority, the University has designed programmes that serve the judiciary and the broader justice sector. These include initiatives on judicial education, legal training, legal research and capacity building. This is in tandem with our conviction that building the State of Palestine requires an effective and efficient judicial apparatus, which is capable of protecting the principle of legitimacy, materialising guarantees of equality, and ensuring respect of human rights and freedoms.

Justice Jallad expressed his hope that the workshop would diagnose the current status of administrative justice: “We hope that participants in this workshop make a maximum effort to come up with workable recommendations that benefit both the judiciary and the citizen.” In addition to enacting a separate law on administrative justice, Justice Jallad recommended that the Palestinian judiciary should comprise a two-tiered administrative jurisdiction system. Because it is missioned to administer justice, the High Court of Justice should observe equity and justice. According to Justice Jallad, an administrative judicial branch should be in place to adjudicate administrative disputes.
Mr. Muhanna stressed that the Palestinian justice sector should be developed so as to meet Palestinian challenges and needs. Most importantly, administrative courts will be established. Justice sector development should be tailored to ensure a multi-tiered administrative jurisdiction system. The administrative judicial branch should be given a jurisdiction for full remedy (compensation) actions.
Mr. Al Uweiwi called on participants to work seriously to provide the Palestinian legislative framework with a modern law that regulates the administrative justice system. To emphasise the principle of legitimacy and lay foundations of state institutions, this law is particularly relevant to materialise judicial oversight of decisions and acts of the public administration.

Advocate Shabanah highlighted the PBA’s relentless effort to enhance functions of Palestinian lawyers and disseminate legal culture within the Palestinian society. Advocate Shabanah stressed the need for a complementary working relationship between all judicial and legal stakeholders in Palestine with a view to enhance the Palestinian judicial system in general, and administrative justice in particular.
On behalf of Dr. Assem Khalil, Dean of the Faculty of Law and Public Administration at Birzeit University, Dr. Yasser al Amouri emphasised that both the Faculty and the IoL are committed to consolidating the working relationship with the Palestinian justice sector. To this end, the Faculty and IoL provide tailor-made activities targeting judges, lawyers and law students.
The workshop comprised three sessions: (1) Nature and Jurisdiction of Administrative Justice; (2) Administrative Actions and Associated Problems of Execution; and (3) Strategy and Requirements for Development of Administrative Justice in Palestine. To specialise in Administrative Law and administrative challenges, participants stressed that Palestinian administrative justice should be developed by providing training and capacity building to judicial staff, prosecutors and lawyers. An enabling legal environment will be created to improve the administrative judicial system. To duly protect individual rights and freedoms, the Palestinian judicial apparatus should adopt a two-tiered administrative jurisdiction component.

A select number of judges, academics and lawyers presented distinguished research papers in the workshop sessions. Speakers included Dr. Adnan Amr, Professor of Administrative Law at Al Quds University; Mr. Ahmed Khaled, Lecturer in Administrative Law at Birzeit University; Dr. Rasha Hammad, Director of the HJC Research and Studies Centre; Justice Abdullah Ghuzlan, High Court judge; Dr. Mohammed al Hajj Qasem, Professor of Administrative Law at the University of Hasan II, Morocco; Dr. Ahmed Barrak, Assistant to the Attorney General for Administrative Cases; Justice Ahmed al Ashqar, Conciliation Court judge; Advisor Fawwaz Abu Zirr, Assistant to the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers for Legal Affairs; Justice Mahmoud Hammad, High Court judge; Dr. Ammar Dwaik, Professor of Law at Birzeit University; Advocate Ahmed as Sayyad; and Dr. Khaled Talahmah, Chairman of the Department of Law at Birzeit University.