2015 Activities

AMAN and Raya FM achieve the longest marathon radio talk-show (10 hours), shedding the light on Anti-Corruption Cases

AMAN and Raya FM achieve the longest marathon radio talk-show (10 hours), shedding the light on Anti-Corruption Cases

In Observance of the International Anti-Corruption Day

Ramallah - AMAN Coalition for Accountability and Integrity, in cooperation and partnership with Raya Media Network, broadcasted a live radio talk-show for 10 consecutive hours (i.e. from 7 am until 5 pm). The show tackled the issue of corruption in observance of the International Anti-Corruption Day on December, 9th.

The talk-show addressed nine pivotal points presented by the Journalist Talaat Alawi shed the light on corruption cases and anti-corruption efforts. Each section focuses on a different topic with a different guest.
Shadi Zamaareh, the Director of Programs and Broadcast Engineering at Raya FM, emphasized that this program manifested the true partnership between Raya, AMAN and a network of local radio stations, namely, Bethlehem 2000 Radio, Rabea Radio in Hebron and al-Shaab Radio in Gaza. He, furthermore, added that the stakeholders have been endeavoring to reclaim the major role of media in the war raged against corruption and each violator of law and abuser of the public wealth.

Further, Zamaara mentioned that the talk-show addressed several cases, including, the petroleum sector, the spoiled food and the reasons behind the concealment of the names of the corrupt traders, the reconstruction of the Gaza strip, the Anti-corruption Commission, the municipalities and services, the financial crisis, the international funders and regional participations, and the accountability of the medical mistakes.

Lana Tawasheh, the core Program Manager at AMAN, confirmed that AMAN annually organizes several events on the International Anti-Corruption Day on December, 9th. This year the longest radio talk-show has been on air for ten hours. The show shed the light on issues of paramount importance for the Palestinian people and their daily lives, giving them the opportunity to hold the responsible accountable. The program underlined the significance of the collective anti-corruption efforts that should be devoted to eradicate corruption completely.
Moreover, Tawasheh referred to the Annual Transparency Celebration organized by AMAN to honor the winners of the integrity awards and to announce the core components of the austerity plan which will be furnished to the Government. She also  a constellation of events  that were organized in celebration of this occasion, including feminist debates, youth meetings, and the Youth against Corruption initiative which was launched in observance of the International Anti-corruption Day.

Talat Alawi, the producer and presenter of the program, asserted that the program has achieved a breakthrough in unveiling the names of the contaminated food sellers by periodic reports issued by the Ministry of National Economy upon the approval of the Cabinet.

As for the medical mistakes, the representative of the Ministry of Health expressed his willingness to address the Minister of Health to document the medical mistakes and prepare the necessary reports on the medical mistakes that already occurred or may occur. Alawi also stressed that such dialogues promote the principles of transparency and provide facts and figures about the rights of the member of the public. Above all this event granted all the Palestinians to hold the responsible authorities accountable, besides the regional and international participation.

‎Chairman of the General Personnel Council vowed to publish the job description of the senior staff on the forthcoming Thursday

The Chairman of the General Personnel Council pledged to disclose the promotions and appointments of senior posts and to publish job descriptions for the senior staff in a form of a decision on Thursday to be publicly accessible. 

AMAN calls upon the Government to regulate the petroleum sector and the fraud cases are left to gather dust on the shelf at the Palestinian courts
Haider Hjjeh, Chairperson of the Palestinian Standards Institution, revealed that four gas stations were caught manipulating the seal of the institution and the amount of fuel they imported during 2014. In 2015, only one station was caught out of the 260 licensed fuel stations in Palestine. Hjjeh also affirmed the case of the very station is still sub judice. However, the station still works and sells fuel under close supervision.
Additionally, Hjjeh pointed out that the phenomenon of mixing diesel with lower-minerals is limited. Basically, diesel gets mixed with a low quality boilers’ diesel which is not suitable for vehicles. Moreover, it may be mixed with inflammatory materials or low-quality petroleum by-product. He also urged the General Directorate of Petroleum to tighten the grip, especially in areas where fraud and diesel mixing occur. He emphasized the need to check on the pumps and tanks of some stations, which are suspected to in need for maintenance.

Fouad al-Shobaki, Director of the General Directorate of Petroleum, ensured that the Directorate has prudently closed 10 gas stations because they mix diesel with other materials, which led to the damage of some parts in the automobiles. Illustratively, he mentioned that 16 cases were punished in agreement with the Public Prosecution to refer the violators directly to the prosecution, close violating stations and present them to courts. al-Shobaki also pinpointed that none of the duly closed stations may not reopen, unless it ensures  that the fuel is clean and of a high quality. It should be noted that these stations would be adversely affected, as the number of their clients would be dramatically reduced.

Al-Shobaki confirmed that the rate of use and consumption of fuel in the appropriate diesel stations has increased in 2015; this, tacitly, signifies a lower fraud rate this year and a decline in the mineral imports used in the frauds, which usually occur in the area C and in neutral zones (i.e. areas under the control of the Israeli authorities). Last but not least, al-Shobaki pointed out that some of the mixed fuel gets transferred to the Israeli. In other words, such a phenomenon is not uniquely Palestinian.

Finally, al-Shobaki stressed that the diesel used in Palestine is identical to the one used in Israeli gas stations, as their source is either Haifa Oil Refinery or Ashdod Oil Refinery.
Nizar al-Jabari, the head of the Syndicate of Gas Station Owners, said that the main problem lies in the absence of court decisions on the violations. Nonetheless, Al-Jabri valued the supervision which declined the rate of frauds in comparison to the previous years.

Al-Jabari clarified that the syndicate is not competent to take actions against the violators, but he recommended that they should be heavily fined and their stations should be  closed. In the same context, al-Shobaki commented that such measures are not ruled out.

Moreover, al-Jabari highlighted the need for a firm political will to sue the violating stations and their owners in the area C in the West Bank  under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Finally, he added that the General Directorate of Petroleum stands in need of a law to regulate its scope of work, define the official body authorized to prosecute violators and regulate oil and gas industry.
Dr. Azmi al-Shuaibi, AMAN’s Board of Directors Anti-Corruption Consultant, marked out the frequent and incessant calls issued by AMAN to regulate the petroleum sector, since the status quo offers a fertile soil for corruption and abuse of the public wealth and rights of the Palestinian people. Al-Shuaibi praised the tremendous efforts of the General Directorate of Petroleum; he, however, emphasized that such efforts need to be complemented on the legislative level. Finally, he reiterated AMAN’s basic objective to regulate the petroleum sector, regardless of the line government body and the conflict over validity, which persists to procrastinate the regulation of the sector.

The Ministry of National Economy stands in need of a legal loophole to unveil the names of the corrupt trader

Dr. Tayseer Amr, the Undersecretary of the Minister of National Economy, asserted that there is no legal justification for naming and shaming the violators who sell contraband goods from settlements. Amr stated that Article 31 of the Consumer Protection Act prohibits the Ministry of National Economy as an executive authority from publishing the names of the corrupt. The court and judiciary are the one and only authorized entity to publish the names of the corrupt traders.

Therefore, Amr called for legal grounds that allow the Ministry of National Economy as an executive authority to publish names of violators and corrupt traders. Finally, he pointed out that the protection of the national product represents another obstacle hindering the relevant authorities from notifying violators.
Iyad Anabtawi, head of the Palestinian Society for Consumer Protection in Nablus, stated that "despite the multitude of blatant fraud and corruption cases, the law prohibits executive bodies, especially the Ministry of National Economy and the Society for Consumer Protection from naming the corrupt traders so as to warn the public. In plain English, those traders should be exposed."
In the same context, Anabtawi stated that the Court had already issued a decision to announce the names of eight traders who sold settlements’ rotten goods in the last September, but the decision has been enforced yet.

Lana Tawasheh, the Core Program Manager at AMAN, confirmed that the absence of legal grounds allowing the Ministry of National Economy to announce the names of the corrupt traders does not deprive the citizens from their right to know the name of the rotten and contaminated products in order to avoid them. Affirmatively, she called upon the authorities to expose such products if there are legal obstacles prevent the publication of the corrupt traders’ names.

Renad Abdullah, a lawyer and legal adviser, agreed with Tayseer Amr on the lack of legal grounds that allow the Ministry of National Economy to announce names of corrupt traders. However, she believes that theg graver problem lies in the obstacles that leave thousands of causes gathering the dust without referring them to the competent courts.  The Ministry of National Economy has notified 597 traders from the start of this year until the end of August, yet most of them were not referred to courts.

On the contrary, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of National Economy, Tayseer Amr, defied Abdullah’s statement, trumpeting that all cases of violation were submitted to the competent courts. He also pointed out that traders receive notifications on minor violations. However, such foibles do not threaten the product and consumer; consequently, they are presented to judiciary.

Amr acknowledged that there is a partnership between the Ministry of National Economy and the private sector to find a loophole to inform citizens of the names of the corrupt traders in the absence of a law that allows executive bodies to do so. He also invited the private sector to bring pressure to bear on the relevant authorities to amend the law and allow the Ministry of National Economy to publish the names of corrupt traders.

Khalil Rizk, the head of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and the head of the Coordinating Council of the private sector, confirmed that the private sector agrees on exposing and libeling the corrupt traders, especially, those who intend to harm citizens’ health by selling fraudulent and contaminated goods from the Israeli settlements. He expressed his willingness to urge the relevant authorities to issue an official decree or an amendment to the Consumer Protection Act in order to deepen the right of citizens to know and deter corrupt traders.

Talat Alawi, the producer and presenter of the program, asserted that the program has achieved a breakthrough in unveiling the names of the contaminated food sellers by periodic reports issued by the Ministry of National Economy upon the approval of the Cabinet.

The Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip Roams in the Unseen

A year and a half have elapsed since the last Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip, but the atrocious and scenes of murders and destruction are still lingering in the minds of most of the families suffer the extreme tough and complex situation, besides the destruction of their homes. Up to this moment, a plethora of families is still looking forward to reconstructing or rehabilitating their shattered homes.
An arcane cloudiness clads the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. Wael Balousha, the head of AMAN’s office in Gaza, said, in an attempt to find out the real reasons behind the delay the reconstruction process and whether corruption is one of the main reasons hindering its progress. As the incessant wars and aggressions against Gaza Strip since 2008 have transformed it into, but an icon of destruction, the reconstruction of the Strip has been increasing a need of paramount importance. Thousands of families whose houses were destroyed live in increasingly difficult and complicated conditions due to the interruption of the reconstruction process.

Furthermore, he argued that the inconsistent figures disclosed by the relevant authorities exacerbate the doubts about the total funds and building materials needed for reconstruction of the Gaza strip. "From the very beginning of the invasion, the Ministry of Public Works has estimated the need for $10 billion to implement the reconstruction process. In the conference held at Cairo, donors pledged to grant $5.4 billion. However, the responsible authorities declared that only 10% of the total amount has been received. On the other hand, the Minister of Public Works, Mufeed al-Hassayna, admitted that they had received 26% of the amount”, he said. Balousha declared that relevant authorities restrained to give accurate figures about the funds and construction materials received for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

Hassan al-Wali, the spokesperson of IDPs League, said that Israeli raids led to the displacement of more than 500,000 Palestinians in Gaza Strip during the recent conflict. 120,000 displaced persons were uprooted from their homes to roam homeless, or to rent houses and caravans inappropriate for a human decent living. Now, they are still waiting for the actualization of the promises of reconstruction and the rip-off the huge amount of the promised funds.

Al-Wali affirmed the occupation is the main procrastinator of reconstruction of the Strip. The suffering of Gazans has been exacerbated, as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) halted the financial allocations for the victims of the latest Israeli aggression against Gaza Strip last August.

Adnan Abu Hasna, the spokesperson of UNRWA in Gaza, stated that the occupation and the internal schism represent the key causes for the delays in the reconstruction process. He emphasized that the international community asks the Palestinian Authority to be in control of the Gaza Strip and the crossings there in order to receive all the vowed funds.

Critically, Abu Hasna touched on the persistence of the political division which leaves 120,000 displaced Palestinians homeless and the Gaza Strip destroyed and undeveloped. Subsequently, the lives of Gazans will be negatively impacted.

Abu Hasna also reasoned that if the current status qou in Gaza left unresolved, the consequences would be seriously grave. "We cannot reflect the image of the suffering of Gazans due to the devastation and severe conditions which left no room for a decent happy life."
Abu Hasna described the UNRWA’s interruption of the payment for the victims of the aggression as an evitable result of the late delayed donors’ funds. He explained the solution was in the offing as negotiations with one of the funding states demonstrated.”

Anti-corruption:  77 complaints about the abuse of trust in the municipalities

Rasha Amarna, the Director General of the Legal Affairs of the Anti-Corruption Commission, said that the most common complaints received by the commission are about the abuse of trust in municipal settings. Currently, the number of the complaints reached 77 complaints (i.e.15.2% of the total complaints received by the Commission and almost the double number of complaints that had been received the last year). 59 complaints on nepotism and favoritism have been received this year, 19 complaints about embezzlement and a few complaints about bribery.
Talaat Alaw and Rasha Amarna have tackled 127 corruption cases throughout the radio talk show organized by AMAN in cooperation with Raya Media Network, and presented by the Journalist Talaat Alawi. These complaints have been filed to the Commission. 84 of them were settled, five violators were condemned and others were charged of financial embezzlement. It should be noted the punishment of embezzlement crimes is the imprisonment for a period that varies between 3 to 15 years; moreover, the embezzler shall be fined of the same amount of the embezzled money.
Moreover, Amarne gave an example of the late Yasser Arafat’s adviser who was sentenced of 15 year imprisonment with a fine of $ 30 million.  Amarna also said that the Commission procedures do neither discriminate in favor of senior officials nor against ordinary citizens. She pointed out that Palestine has been a pioneer among first Arab countries that investigated and sued senior officials such as ministers.
Amarna called citizens to report corruption. Despite the fact that while many citizens still lack of knowledge on the concept of corruption. This was apparent through a survey conducted by the Commission on the causes of corruption. The survey shows 83% of the sample believed that the corruption is proliferated, whereas only 14% said that they were victims of corruption.

50 thousand employees receive salaries without lifting a finger

Mousa Abu Zayed, the chairperson of the General Personnel Council, stated that the number of the Palestinian authority staff amounts to 90562 employees, and the number of the retiree is around 1500-1600 per-annum. On the other hand, 3,000 new employees are appointed per-year. He claimed that government jobs are based on merits and transparent competition, denying on the employments based on political affiliations.
He pointed out that the Palestinian law stipulates the government employee may practice work for nine hours per week, provided that this work does not contradict with the official working hours. Furthermore, Mr. A’zmi el-Shua’ibi, AMAN BoD Integrity and Accountability consultant, indicated that 50 thousand employees receive their salaries, while they are in their homes, thus, the government should find a way to solve this problem.
Moreover, Shuaibi insisted that the confrontation of the financial crisis requires the contribution of the civil society and the agreement of all official and public institutions on the national plan of austerity and rationalization. The Government cannot carry out this national burden by itself. He also highlighted that the government should examine serious options for austerity measures to reduce unnecessary expenditures and privileges granted to senior staff, as well as rationalization to rearrange priorities and effectiveness utilization of the available resources. Besides, AMAN will submit specific proposals in this regard to the government after the completion of the consultants with the Civil Team for the Public Budget Transparency, during the next days.

Municipalities under Microscope

Mohamed Hassan Jabarin, a local government assistant, revealed that 378 local government bodies are under the control and guidance of the Ministry which visits them on annual, quarterly, and weekly basis, to assess their performance, rectify any defect, and ensure that the actions of the municipal bodies are "under a microscopic supervision".  Further, Jabarin illustrated that the changes in the budget headings and exchange items are in line with the urgent needs of the local community. Therefore, it resorts to amend the exchange items after getting the approval of the local government. He also claimed that any infringement would be reported to the Ministry of local government and the Anti-corruption Commission or the public prosecutor if there was any contravention or mismanagement in the local government.
Vera Papon, the head of Bethlehem municipality, indicated that the municipal budget is limited due to the lack of the direct resources. The municipal budget income is based on transportation taxes and other similar resources. Papon said that the municipality had spent six million shekels to collect only two million shekels from the citizens. A study has been conducted with a view to increasing the numbers of taxpayers to reach 12 thousand taxpayers this year. Finally, Papon stated that the municipal council had decided to raise the existing household waste fees by 10%.
Ziad taweel, the mayor of al-Bireh municipality, indicated that the municipal procedures have been developed. The municipality has received zero corruption complaints. He attributed the progress to several reasons, including: the internal protection procedures, implementation of laws and regulations on various procedures, and the adapting any problems through the specialized channels. Furthermore, Altaweel expressed that the municipality publishes all the projects and the activities on its official website and on its Facebook page as well. Finally, Jabarin praised the efforts of al-Bireh Municipality and considered it to an example for other municipalities to follow.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health lacks figures of the medical mistakes

Dr. Yasser Bouzeh, Director General of Public Health in the Ministry of Health, said that every doctor attempts to save as much of the cases with the human and technical potentials he or she has. He adds that the distinction between medical mistakes and medical negligence should be explicit.  The medical mistakes are results of the happenstance of something that cannot be controlled, unintentional and not systematic. However, negligence falls under slackness and failure to follow the sound medical procedures. Furthermore, Abizaid insisted that final decisions cannot be taken regarding the issue of negligence and medical mistakes without a complete investigation. The situation should be fully dissected and examinations by experts should be made to assess the complexity of the situation. In addition, he focused on the urgent need to punish the doctor in the case of negligence. Bouzeh also stated that he didn’t have any figures regarding the medical mistakes.

In the same context, Dr. Mohammed al-Ramahi, a spokesperson of the Medical Association insisted on the significance of the determination of the medical cause of the mistake before resorting to the court. He also explained the technical capacity of public hospitals in the West Bank is poor and insufficient, especially because of the great pressure the doctor encounters in his/her day, and the increase of the medical cases that s/he diagnoses and treats in comparison with the supposed number.

In addition, Maen idais, a member of the Human Rights Independent Commission confirmed, that there were no statistics about the medical mistakes, and shoulder the Ministry of Health and the union the responsibility of this default, indicating that this mistake exceeds the medical mistake and must be solved.

Besides, Izzat Melhem, a citizen, a severely suffered from the medical mistakes which costed the life of his wife Yara. He bitterly narrated that his late wife gave birth after a quick cesarean operation, and the doctors informed him she was in a good health to discover later that they were looking for a blood donor for her. They were given orders to transfer her to The Rafidya hospital in Nablus to face her death there. He also added that his wife was undergone two operations which unintentionally tore her stomach. He confirmed that her fragile body couldn’t shoulder the onus of these two procedures. Above all, the doctor who was supervising his wife’s status doesn’t have a licensure from the Palestinian board.

On this case, Dr. Yasserr, Bouzeh said that he lacked the information despite that the mistake it has occurred three years ago. However, he stated that as long as there are human interventions, so the medical mistakes might happen. He also added that medical complications faced by the doctor during the work are possible. Therefore, the doctor should not be held accountable, but s/h is should shoulder the responsibility to inform the patient and his family so as to be psychologically prepared for what may result from the followed procedures.

At the end, Ramahi confirmed that he is not a line party, yet the case of Melhem’s wife is an explicit medical mistake. He emphasized the law should run its course in this case; however, the union cannot prevent the doctor from her work, even if she doesn’t have licensure.

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