2016 Activities

Towards Strengthening Independence of the Judiciary: Statement by Human Rights and Civil Society Organizations

Towards Strengthening Independence of the Judiciary: Statement by Human Rights and Civil Society Organizations

The undersigned human rights and civil society organizations observed with deep concern the resignation of the Head of the High Judicial Council, Chief Justice Sami Sarsour, on October 13, 2016. According to confirmed information received by the signatory institutions, Chief Justice Sarsour was asked to sign a resignation letter prior to taking the legal oath on January 20, 2016.
In this regard, the undersigned organizations would like to express their shock concerning this measure which entails a violation of the constitution and laws in force.  The Organizations would also like to voice their absolute rejection of all forms of interference in the judiciary by any party.  Based on the above, we, the undersigned stress the following:
- That requesting from Chief Justice Sarsour to submit his resignation at the time of his appointment, or at any later date, is a clear indication of a serious interference from the executive authority. This request also impinges on the sovereignty of the judiciary and leaves the post void of any power and content.
- That acceptance of the Chief Justice to sign the resignation letter is considered submission to the executive authority as well as a willingness to accept interference by that authority at any time, not to mention that it undermines the independence of the judiciary.
- It is important to that all individuals in requesting the resignation from the chief justice are held accountable; hence setting a precedence for preventing possible future interference in the work of the judiciary.
- It is important to exclude all those who are proven to have a role in jeopardizing the independence of the legal profession, as well as ban them from working in this line of work.  
- It is important to form an independent and neutral committee that enjoys immunity to investigate resignations imposed or coerced by the executive authority, prior to their appointment.
- It is important to consolidate all efforts to hold a national conference, as soon as possible, with the aim of reforming and unifying the judicial authority. This will serve to reinforce the concept of the separation of powers and ensure professionalism, integrity, and independence of the judiciary, in addition to strengthening respect for Palestinian human rights.

Signatory Institutions:

•  Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC)
-Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights
- Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights
- Al-Haq Organization – Law in the Service of Man
- The Palestinian Center for Human Rights
- Global Defense for Children International- Palestine Branch
- Center for Defense of Liberties & Civil Rights (Hurryyat)
- Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies
- Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association (Addameer)
- Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugees Rights (Badil)
- Aldameer Association for Human Rights
- Women Center for Legal Aid and Counseling
- Insan Center for Democracy and Human Rights
• The Independent Commission for Human Rights
• The Coalition for Integrity and Accountability-AMAN
• The Civil Commission for the Independence of the Judiciary and Rule of Law- Istiqlal
• The Independent Center for the Judiciary and the Legal Profession (MUSAWA)

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