Palestinian court house, built with Japan’s aid, opens in Nablus

Two Palestinian men walking through the local market in Nablus (Photo: Anja Meulenbelt/UCP, 2003)

The Palestinian Authority has open a new court building in Nablus in the West Bank, the first of its kind in the occupied Palestinian territory.

It houses two courts: the magistrate court of the Nablus area and the primary court for the northern governorates of the West Bank. Japan contributed US$ 2.5 million for the construction through the UNDP Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People.

Izuru Shimmura, head of the Office of the Japanese Representative to the Palestinian Authority, speaking at the recent inauguration of the building, said that Japan aims to support a unified authority with the responsibility for upholding the rule of law, under the scrutiny of the judiciary and civil society, operating through institutions based on political pluralism.

Nablus’ mayor, Ghassam Al-Shakaa’, who spoke on behalf of Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian National Authority, expressed deep gratitude to UNDP and Japan for assistance to the Authority in its efforts to uphold the rule of law and build competent judicial institutions, despite the difficulties that Palestinians face.

“Nablus is not only the largest city in the West Bank, which acts as a metropolitan centre for other governorates, it is also the oldest cradle of civilization in the territories. It is only fitting, therefore, that this new structure is located in Nablus,” said Timothy Rothermel, Special Representative of the UNDP Palestinian programme. The complex will serve as a model for future construction already being planned, he added.

Since the Authority introduced its reform plan in July 2002, UNDP has played a central role in several reform efforts, mobilizing about $13 million to support new and ongoing activities. The biggest share of these resources has come from the Government of Japan, which has contributed $11 million, while UNDP has contributed approximately $2 million.

UNDP has helped set up the Palestinian Elections Commission, worked to enhance the internal audit capacity of the Authority and aided reforms in several ministries. UNDP also assists decentralization of municipal and rural governments and works closely with the civil society groups in the Coalition for Accountability and Integrity to support good governance, transparency and accountability in all Palestinian institutions.

Among those attending the inauguration of the court building were Dr. Zohair Sorani, Head of the High Judicial Council; Nahed Al-Rayyes, Minister of Justice; Mohammad Aloul, Governor of Nablus, and members of the bar association and other civil society organizations.

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