2015 Activities

The State Audit and Administrative Control Bureau: Remarks on Amending Related Law

The State Audit and Administrative Control Bureau: Remarks on Amending Related Law


The Coalition for Integrity and Accountability- (AMAN) held an extensive discussion workshop on the amended draft law of the law regulating the State Audit and Administrative Control Bureau (SAACB).  Representatives from a number of official and civil institutions attended the workshop, namely from SAACB, the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), Public  Prosecution, High Judicial Council, Ministry of Justices, Council of Ministers, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), the Palestinian Monitory Fund, the Palestinian Pension Agency, the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), Birzeit University (BZU), Palestinian Bar Association, Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), the Palestinian Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and Legal Profession (Musawa), the Independence of the Judiciary Association, the Palestinian Center for Peace and Democracy. During the workshop, participants discussed articles of the draft law suggested by the SAACB.

Dr. Azmi Shuaibi, Advisor for AMAN Board of Directrs, opened the workshop by stressing the importance of the meeting attributing it to the vital role played by SAACB in promoting integrity in the management of public funds as well as the hardship experienced by the Bureau as a result of the absence of the PLC; the body responsible for protection of the independence and effective role of the Bureau. Hence the aim of this meeting, in addition to the discussion revolving around the amended draft law mentioned above, which was presented to the Council of Ministers, is to provide support for the Bureau and to discuss means of promoting its independence. He said that it is important for concept of independence to be understood correctly and not lead to the creation of a “kingdom” exempt from accountability.

In his presentation of the reasons and justifications for the proposed amendments, Mr. Jaffal, Legal Advisor at the Bureau, stated that the amendments were drafted by a legal committee which was formed under the former director of the Bureau.  He also emphasized that the amendments proposed were in line with international principles and standards (INTOSAI).  Moreover, Mr. Iyad Tayyem, Head of the Bureau, stated that the purpose of the amendments is to promote independence of the Bureau as well as to promote transparency at work.  He said that there is an urgent need to review legislations governing the work of the Bureau in order to ensure a system at work and provide reference for the independence of the Bureau, especially in light of the recent tremors experienced.

Immunity does not mean that the head and employees of the Bureau are not held accountable

Representatives of the ACC emphasized their support for the independence of the Bureau with reservations on the amendment related to granting the head of the Bureau parliamentary immunity that could include all of his duties; an issue that is unjustified. 

During the meeting, it was noted that article 14 of the suggested draft is a gross violation of the provisions of the Basic Law as well as to few articles of the Code of Criminal Procedures, which governs the powers of the Attorney General; also article 9 of the Anti-Corruption Law.  It is worth noting that the mentioned text grants the head of the Bureau or any Bureau employee he authorizes in his place the power to submit cases to all competent courts regardless of type and or rank.  He/she can also follow up authorize, reconcile, abandon, or drop any case related to the oversight reports issued by the Bureau. This is despite the fact that article 107 of the Basic Law clearly stipulates that the Attorney General is the person in charge of public cases.  Moreover, article 9 of the Anti-Corruption Law granted the ACC the right to move, and or follow up on corruption cases via the Public Prosecution Office “the Anti-Corruption Prosecution is under the jurisdiction of the Public Prosecution Office”.

Representatives of the Public Prosecution Office indicated that it is not permissible to grant the power of moving criminal or even civil cases to the Bureau as this represents an assault on the competence of the Public Prosecution Office in relation to moving criminal cases and government representation in civil proceedings.

Amending provisions of the Basic Law

During the workshop it was pointed out that article 14 of the proposed draft constituted a deviation from and an amendment to the provisions of the Basic law and the Code of Criminal Procedures; two basic laws that are complementary to the constitution and under no circumstances is it permissible to modify them by a draft law.  In addition, the proposed text also overrides provisions of the Anti-Corruption Law, not to mention the assault and bypassing of the Public Prosecution Office that are protected under the Basic  Law and other judicial laws mentioned. This is in addition to robbing basic and fundamental powers delegated to the Anti-Corruption Law.

In regard to another suggested amendment, representative of the Palestinian Monitory Fund indicated that in the event the Bureau needs to lift banking privacy related to its work, it is possible to take that measure by referring to the competent party, but only after obtaining a court permission to do so.

The need to promote the independence of SAACB

The Legal Advisor of the Judiciary Council emphasized the importance of promoting the independence of the SAACB administratively and financially as long as it does not take the form of the General Intelligence Law.  There were non-governmental organizations who called for consideration of what is stated in the draft of the Palestinian Constitutional Law to include articles relating to the independence of the Bureau noting that decisions of the head of the Bureau, relating to rejections of complaints submitted, be justified.

The SAACB was established in accordance with provisions of the Basic Law; hence it enjoys an independent legal status and is considered, according to the law, the highest monitoring and control apparatus in Palestine.  The Bureau materialized as a control bureau in 1994 as a result of a presidential decree no. 22, which granted the establishment of a control commission. It also governed the work of this institution based on The Commission’ La No. 17 for 1995. The commission transformed into a bureau in accordance with Law No. 15 for 2004.

The role of the Bureau is to carry out supervisory functions related to parties subject to its control by a non-provocative manner and away from nitpicking through performance evaluation that would lead to a more efficient and effective performance, which in turn will be beneficial for the Palestinian people.

This can be achieved through auditing parties under its jurisdiction by conducting field visits, reviewing and investigating citizens’ complaints, looking into administrative and financial violations, and conducting research and studies that aim to improve performance and address flaws and shortcomings of institutions with the aim of developing and improving performance i.e., correcting their path.

Transparency in publishing reports

What constitutes a positive change is the announcement of the Bureau’s director during the meeting expressing his willingness to embrace and support the idea of publicizing the Bureau’s reports to citizens;  taking into consideration privacy issues related to national security.

It is worth noting that the Bureau operates on the grounds that it is the same as any of the state’s apparatuses and departments with no impediments to carry out its work and duties. It is also assumed that all institutions and departments subject to its control be cooperative with its employees for the sake of benefitting these institutions. It is worthy to note that monitoring and control has its own positive impact in promoting and raising trust of the Palestinian community in government, local government and civil society institutions.  This awareness will bring about desired results by exposing administrative and financial deviations to be corrected. In this regard, the Bureau represents the pillar by which accountability mechanisms are built on in order to activate and promote proper behavior in Palestinian institutions by adhering to the principles and standards of the government audits.

go top