AMAN Coalition and Sharek Hold 2020 Youth Summit in Partnership with
Civil Society Forum to Promote Good Governance in the Security Sector
Youth Demands Reach Palestinian Police Departments Following Questions On their Public Services
Ramallah – Under the umbrella of the Coalition for Integrity and Accountability: Aman and Sharek Forum, in partnership with the Civil Society Forum for the Promotion of Good Governance in the Security Sector, crowned a team of young men and women who took part in the Integrity School, Youth Summit 2020 following their involvement in the National Accountability Day events. During the day, 25 questions and answers sessions were held in the West Bank to cover the policy priorities and interventions (2020-2022) approved by the Council of Ministers on matters related to civil peace, security and the rule of law to achieve social security.
During three radio sessions on Raya FM and social media, youth questioned agencies in charge of public services including community police, customs police, and cybercrimes unit to promote youth role in oversight over public fund and affairs and to propagate a sense of community accountability and encourage them to take part in anticorruption efforts.
Mr. Issam Haj Yassen, Acting Executive Director of AMAN, inaugurated the session addressing youth to encourage them to be further involved in community issues and promote community accountability principles. He also called on the government and decision-makers to listen well to the recommendations and claims of youth at the summit. He also called for removal of tribal or factional protection of perpetrators of crimes in order to impose social safety and civil state principles together with the rule of law and independence of the judiciary. He also called for more efforts to consolidate community partnership and promote confidence between citizens and police while respecting the principles of transparency and accountability.
Bader Zamarah, Sharek Executive Director, underlined the role of Palestinian police, which has made great efforts over the past years in addition to the special procedures during COVID-19 pandemic. He reiterated dialogue as the most successful means to discuss the challenges facing the society, especially for youth. Zamarah also highlighted the need for public awareness of the proper use of the Internet and the organization of longer screen time during the emergency and closures situation.
Rising crime rates require a stronger community police role with a comprehensive national plan in partnership with the community
In the first session, youth questioned Colonel Fareed Ladadwah, Director of Community Police with the Palestinian police, on the role of his unit under constant rising crimes rates. Statistics showed that 25,000 crimes were committed in 2014, compared with 33,000 in 2018 – an increased of 8000 crimes. (source, Palestinian Police official statistics).
Colonel Ladadwah also explained that the police was using modern techniques to control crime by building capacities and efficiency while providing a better quality of life and more community involvement. The police also aim to raise public awareness for joint understanding and larger space for preventive and preemptive action to dismantle the elements of crime upon discovery. The objective is to reduce crime rates especially under occupation’s mobility restrictions in different Palestinian areas. The colonel underlined that the role of the police represents part of the police’s advisory role and accumulation of experience. It builds partners groups to form advisory councils selected according to specific criteria in consultation with the local community. These boards include civil peace councils in towns and cities, which receive training on alternative dispute resolution mechanism to avoid development of conflicts into crimes.
In their recommendations, youth focused on a comprehensive national plan in partnership with all stakeholders to put community police into action, especially in Areas “c”. This can be achieved via real partnerships with the local community and openness to the society to promote citizen-police confidence and comply with the principles of transparency and accountability.
Youth: It is important to raise awareness of safe social media use:
The second session focused on digital security and cybercrimes in Palestine. Youth questioned Colonel Samer Al-Hindi, Director of the Cybercrime Units, and raised their concern regarding increased cyber violence including threats, blackmailing, humiliation, and harassment through social media due to wide use of the Internet. They referred to the rise in the number of complaints reported to the Cybercrimes Unit, which amounted to 2600 in 2018, compared to 173 in 2013. This means a rise of 14.8% in six years only. The Violence Survey in the Palestinian Society of 2019, published by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, showed that 10% of youth who have not been previously married faced a form of cyber violence by other uses of social media.
Colonel Hindi explained that depending on the seriousness of cybercrimes, the Palestinian police established in 2013 a specialized cybercrimes unit, affiliated with the Public Investigation Department. Later in 2016, a cybercrime prosecution office within the public prosecution was set up. Hindi continued that cybercrimes are transboundary and easy to commit and conceal in a few minutes. He stressed that cybercrimes are amongst the most dangerous in modern days because of their harm and potential to trigger other crimes.
Hindi explained that in case of an official reporting on blackmailing, the cybercrimes unit searches the house following access to the suspect’s digital data upon a public prosecution warrant. They later examined the digital material seized in the labs and prepare a judicial file. Colonel Hindi referred to the reporting mechanisms relating to cybercrimes and provide protection and support as well as safe ways to ensure privacy and confidentiality.
The youth called for the enforcement of cybercrimes law in a manner that does not undermine public freedoms. They also asked for awareness programs on the safe use of social media and on building communication and confidence among youth and anti-cybercrime police. They proposed achieving this objective via raising awareness of cybercrimes and blackmailing in order to immune youth against falling in such traps.
Empowerment of customs police to minimize losses endured by the Palestinian treasury
The third session focused on the role of customs police in achieving economic security. Youth asked Colonel Ibrahim Ayyash, Public Relations and Media Officer at the Customs Police, who explained the role of this agency. The customs police implement the government’s economic policy and combats settlements products, expired and perished products as well as imitations and fraudulent goods. It also combats customs and tax evasion and helps create a safe business environment to promote investment and foster the Palestinian national economy.
Youth reiterated on the importance of providing the customs police with the qualified human resources and necessary financial and logistic support to perform their tasks and promote internal control units in security organs. They proposed to achieve this goal via training of control teams and development of their systems and work procedures. Youth also believe that the customs police needs to promote its role via better governance of its operations to achieve economic security and minimize smuggling and financial leaking, which deprive the public treasury of millions of shiekles. For this purpose, instructions and policies to prevent conflict of interest and regulate acceptance of gifts by staff must be devised and circulated to all judicial police officers.
Young women and men will continue updating officials and decision-makers of all issues discussed in these sessions in order to guarantee fulfilment of their claims.