Students, legal researchers explore impact of amendments on procedural law in Palestine

Students, legal researchers, and faculty members discussed the changes introduced by laws by decree on Palestinian procedural law in a symposium organized by Birzeit University’s Institute of Law, jointly with Konrad Adeneaur Stiftung (KAS)- Palestine, on March 31, 2022.

The encounter, part of a series organized by the Institute of Law in the West Bank and Gaza, featured legal experts that included Judge Fateh Hamarsheh, and lawyers Raed Asfour, and Daoud Darawi.

Mohammed Alkhader, an academic researcher, chaired the session, emphasizing in his opening remarks the destabilizing effects that laws by decree have on court proceedings as well as the system of rights and duties in Palestine.

Hamarsheh, who began the discussion, highlighted the consequences of amending procedural law through laws by decree, arguing that such amendments have an adverse impact on enforcing rights and the rule of law in Palestine. As an example, he discussed the 2022 amendments of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure No. 2 of 2001, arguing that such changes as the electronic serving of legal notices or changing the purview of conciliation courts undermine the guarantees to a fair trial and impede the swift administration of justice.

Along similar lines, Raed Asfour discussed the 2022 amendments to the   2005 Law of Execution, noting that they were redrafted from the Jordanian execution law without regard to their relevance to the 2005 execution law or  the Palestinian context. Among the more problematic effects of these amendments, Asfour noted, were that enforcement judges no longer handle substantive disputes and an apparent contradiction in how defendants can appeal verdicts ruled in absentia.

Daoud Darawi, the final speaker in the session, criticized the amendments to the 2001 Penal Procedure Law, noting that they’ve hampered the protection of human rights in Palestine. The amendments, Darawi explained, severely restrict how and in what form suits can be brought against public officials, requiring the written approval of the prosecutor general.

At the end of the legal encounter, the speakers gave the floor to attendees for questions, and a group discussion was held regarding how best to address the shortcomings of the law-by-decree amendments.