Gaza – The Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN) held a dialogue session on a report, titled How Impartial, Effective and Independent the Public Prosecution is in Investigating Corruption Crimes in the Gaza Strip. Recently published by AMAN, the report spells out the challenges and gaps, which allow impunity for corruption cases investigated by the Public Prosecution and competent prosecutors in Gaza. It also presents practical recommendations to overcome challenges and bridge gaps.
The dialogue session brought together representatives of the Public Prosecution, public prosecutors assigned to corruption cases, and managers and staff members of civil society organisations and government bodies. Participants commended the Public Prosecution for responding to specific issues raised in the report. The Public Prosecution also plays a role in supporting research in the process of immunising the environment of integrity, transparency and accountability. It has uncovered shortfalls and gaps in the participatory process between civil society organisations and the wider justice sector.
The report examines and diagnoses the integrity system in the Public Prosecution’s work. It assesses how committed the Public Prosecution is to integrity values, transparency principles, accountability systems, impartiality and independence in light of its legal, institutional and procedural settings. To this avail, the report reviews the legal and institutional framework of the Public Prosecution and competent prosecutors, highlighting consistence with integrity, transparency and accountability. These standards are measured by indicators associated with each.
The report demonstrates the Public Prosecution conducts effective investigations into corruption crimes. It shows that the jurisdiction of public prosecutors assigned to corruption cases is not entirely restricted to investigating corruption cases. It also covers financial crimes of public concern, including racketeering and fraud. According to the report, public prosecutors assigned to corruption cases do not apply any written policies to protect whistleblowers. Also, the Public Prosecution does not assign public prosecutors to economic crimes.
The report recommends, inter alia, to demand that political parties in the Gaza Strip and West Bank rejuvenate the legislative life. In addition to consolidating anti-corruption legislation in Palestine, the institutional framework for the Public Prosecution’s work should be uniform in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Needed human resources and logistic support should be provided to competent bodies to ensure optimal performance. The report calls on the Attorney General to limit the jurisdiction of the Anti-corruption Prosecution to corruption crimes. The investigation of financial crimes should be separate and referred to district public prosecution offices. The Public Prosecution is also required to develop a code of professional conduct for public prosecutors, including clearly defined provisions on whistleblowing, conflict of interests, and prohibition of gifts. A law needs to be enacted, obliging public prosecutors to disclose their properties and submit financial disclosure statements until such time the relevant regulation enters into effect. In addition, the report indicates that public prosecutors, including the Attorney General, do not enjoy immunity. The change of public prosecutors should be subject to the government’s rotation policy to ensure that the Public Prosecution carries out impartial and independent investigations of corruption crimes.