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AMAN comments on Supreme Court ruling annulling a presidential decree to appoint Ali Muhanna as head of the Supreme Judicial Council

AMAN comments on Supreme Court ruling annulling a presidential decree to appoint Ali Muhanna as head of the Supreme Judicial Council

The Supreme Court accepted the appeal lodged against the appointment by President Mahmoud Abbas of President’s advisor Ali Muhanna as head of the Supreme Judicial Council without the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council.

By accepting the appeal, the Supreme Court has ruled that the President's decision to appoint Muhanna as head of the Supreme Judicial Council is illegal, local sources stated.
The appeal was lodged by lawyer Nael Al-Houh.

According to Article 18 of the Judicial Act, the heads of courts, including the Supreme Court of Justice whose head is also the head of the Supreme Judicial Council, are to be appointed by a decision of the President of the National Authority acting upon the recommendation of a two-thirds majority of members of the Supreme Judicial Council.

Consultant Ali Muhanna took the oath as head of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Judicial Council on the first of July of this year, following his resignation from his post as Minister of Justice.

Comments by AMAN

In its role of providing advocacy and legal advice, AMAN has stated the following in a number of reports and position papers:
"The President has become the main reference for the judicial authority and the public prosecutor's office as he chose and appointed the head of the Supreme Judicial Council without waiting for a recommendation from the Judicial Council itself. In 2014, he also issued decisions establishing three centers to assist the Attorney General, and defined who can take up these posts." (Source: Integrity and Anti-Corruption Report -2014, AMAN p.39).

“This opens a debate on the extent to which the PA President heads the three authorities [of governance]. Secondly, appointing the head of the Supreme Judicial Council without a recommendation by the Judicial Council when Article 18 of the Judicial Authority Act No.1 of 2002 stipulates that procedures to fill judicial posts are to be as follows:

1. Judicial posts are to be assigned by a decision of the President of the Palestinian National Authority upon the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council and in accordance with the following:
• Promotion to be decided on the basis of seniority, taking competence into account.
• Appointment by the public prosecutor.
• Recruitment from sister countries. "
Thus, the appointment of a head to the Supreme Judicial Council without a recommendation from the Supreme Judicial Council raises questions about the reason for such haste, and may make the legitimacy of this decision subject to appeal." (Source: a position paper entitled Necessity should not mean violations of the legal system and lack of respect for the law, AMAN 2014).