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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: European Union (EU)
4 November 2010



مشروع تقوية القضاء الفلسطيني (سيادة II) - إجتماع فريق العمل - بيان صحفي للإتحاد الاروبي


Ramallah
04 November 2010

Press Release

The Working Group Legal Aid determines roles and responsibilities of the Government and
Judicial Institutions on the Establishment of the Legal Aid System


Ramallah – Legal aid is important for protecting the legal position and human rights of all people. Therefore, both the government and judicial institutions have established the Legal Aid Working Group to develop a better organised legal aid system for people with limited financial means and disadvantaged social groups. The Legal Aid Working Group is formed by all key institutions that play a role in the legal aid system, and was formalized by its members to secure the process of institutionalizing legal aid in the oPt and to determine the roles of each of the key institutions.

The EU funded project Seyada II "Empowering the Palestinian Judicial System" supports the establishment of a viable and sustainable legal aid system. In this context, the project organized a meeting for the formalized Working Group Legal Aid on 4 November 2010. The members of the working group attended the meeting with the aim to agree on the next steps for the implementation of a proper legal aid in the oPt including its funding.

Advocate Ali Muhanna, Chairman of the Palestinian Bar Association (PBA), referred to the important role of the PBA in the legal aid system, and he emphasized the valuable role the PBA can play in developing and implementing legal aid arrangements such as procedures and funding. He stressed that lawyers serve as a vehicle to achieve justice in the oPt and to ensure access to justice. Further he assured that the PBA cannot proceed independently without the collateral support between all members of the justice sector.

The High Judicial Council (HJC) would like to see a more regulated mechanism to be followed in appointing defense lawyers in penal cases heard before the court of First Instance. Reference was made to the current difficulties of the courts to find lawyers who are ready to represent the indigent with much lower fees than they usually earn. The HJC affirmed that further regulating the legal aid system and providing sustainable funding is a guarantee to access to justice.

The Ministry of Justice emphasized the important role of the Ministry of Justice in ensuring that all citizens will get equal opportunities to access justice. Moreover, the Ministry assured that it can play a vital role in the future legal aid system, and in issuing policies and strategies that enable a larger segment of the population to benefit from the system.

Seyada II is implemented by a consortium led by ICON-INSTITUT Public Sector GmbH and including the Belgian Development Cooperation Agency (BTC-CTB) and the Centre for International Legal Cooperation (CILC).

For Media inquiries regarding Seyada project please contact:

Mr. Alfons Lentze, Team Leader &
Mr. Feras Milhem, Deputy Team Leader
Irsal Str., Kana'an Bldg, Ramallah
West Bank, Palestine
Tel.: (++970/972 2) 297 6305
Fax: (++970/972 2) 297 6311
Email: info@epj.ps


BACKGROUND INFORMATION


Seyada II project activities

Seyada II supports the High Judicial Council. The project supports the work of the Council’s Inspection Office that has overall responsibility for quality control such as evaluating judges’ work, ensuring that the law and procedures are properly applied and that judgments are properly assessed. Seyada II assists the Council’s Technical Office to facilitate access to information and legal resources for judges and for the legal community. The project supports the work of the Council’s Media Department and train Court of Cassation judges to ensure that judgments are well reasoned. Seyada II helps to establish legal libraries throughout the West Bank, and supports the procurement of IT equipment required by the justice sector.

Seyada II assists the Palestinian Judicial Institute to improve legal professionalism through initial and continuing professional training programmes such as a judicial training system for judges and public prosecutors, the development of a Judicial Studies Diploma Programme, training for trainers’ activities and professional education programmes for non-justice staff.

Seyada II is the first instance of major international donor funding for the Palestinian Bar Association to support institutional and capacity building and to run initial and continuing professional training for lawyers.

Seyada II assists the Palestinian Authority to extend the Legal Aid system in the Palestinian Territory so that all citizens can access justice regardless of their means.

Seyada II aims to improve Constitutional Review by the High Court to help ensure the compatibility of laws and regulations with Palestinian Basic Law. The project will review legislation, train judges in constitutional issues, as well as work to develop judges' knowledge and skills in judicial review.

European Union activities supporting the Rule of Law in Palestine

The EU supports a number of important initiatives to improve Palestinian rule of law, investing more than €40 million in such programmes. Current programmes include:

New Nablus muqata complex, providing central infrastructure for the security services and detention facilities complying with international standards (€15 million).
Construction of the Jenin muqata (€8.5million).
The EU is the single largest single donor to the Jericho Police Training Centre.
The EU works closely with many local civil society organisations on rule of law projects.
The EU will shortly deploy a team of experts in civil justice to work alongside EUPOL COPPS which focuses on criminal justice.

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