Ramallah – The Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN) is following with deep concern the Presidential Decree on the Establishment of the High Council of Judicial Bodies, promulgated by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on 28 October 2022. AMAN is of the view that the presidential decree subverts the provisions of the Palestinian Basic Law and turns away from the principles contained in the Palestinian Declaration of Independence. It undermines the concept of the democratic State, principle of the rule of law, and separation of (legislative, executive, and judicial) powers. Infringing on the principle of government integrity, it reflects both persistent and expedient violation of the Basic Law by the executive branch of government in an attempt to tighten its grip on and dominate the entire system of governance.
Community-based action had been launched before several enactments, which debilitated judicial independence, were passed. The most recent movement was initiated against the Law by Decree No. 40 of 2020 Amending the Judicial Authority No. 1 of 2002. Still, the Palestinian President continues to enact decrees and laws by decrees that effectively impinge on judicial independence enshrined in the Basic Law.
From the viewpoint of AMAN, the presidential decree is an outcome of previous encroachments on the principle of a unified Judicial Authority as provided for under Title VI of the Palestinian Basic Law. The judiciary has been undermined by the establishment of multiple (civil, military, and Sharia) jurisdictions. This anomaly can only be addressed by restoring the constitutional norm prescribed by the Basic Law: the High Judicial Council is in charge of managing the judiciary as a single authority of all civil, Sharia, and military courts. The multiplicity of judicial bodies cannot be handled by creating new councils that report to the Executive.
AMAN is of the opinion that such acts fall in the context of the Executive practices to evade legal constraints put in place by the Basic Law with the aim of consolidating democracy and ensuring balanced separation of powers. These norms are well in contrariety with the current approach of the Executive.
Against this backdrop, AMAN demands that the Presidential Decree on the Establishment of the High Council of Judicial Bodies be revoked immediately. This should maintain respect for, and bring an end to, the abandonment and subversion of the provisions of the Basic Law and Declaration of Independence. Multiple laws by decrees have conveniently run counter to the latter instruments, undermining government integrity and stepped up the exercise of monopoly on the decision making process in favour of the political power.