PCHR denounces the continuation of the state security courts, despite the Minister of Justice’s recent decision to abolish them

 PCHR is shocked by the continued operation of the state security courts despite the recent decision issued by the Palestinian Minster of Justice to abolish them.  PCHR calls upon the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Attorney General to immediately halt the operation of these courts and transfer all cases to the civil courts in accordance with the ministerial decision. 

 On 27 July 2003, Palestinian Minster of Justice ‘Abdul Karim Abu Salah issued a decision abolishing the operations of the state security courts, thereby transferring their powers to civil courts.  However, according to information available to PCHR, on Tuesday, 2 September 2003, the state security court in Gaza City held a session presided by Judge ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Wadi to consider 2 cases, which should have fallen under the authority of civil courts.  According to a PCHR lawyer who was present at the hearing, the prosecution claimed that the session was held to conclude the proceedings of cases that had previously been heard by civil courts. It was claimed that due to time constraints, the cases had been transferred to the state security courts.

PCHR condemns this breach of the decision taken by the Minster of Justice and reaffirms that state security courts lack any constitutional basis and violate all relevant laws approved by the Palestinian Legislative Council, particularly the Judicial Authority Law, the Basic Law and Law of Court Formation.  PCHR reiterates its demands for President Yasser Arafat to issue a Presidential Decree to abolish the state security courts and state security prosecution. Since the formation of the state security courts in 1995, PCHR has consistently called for their abolition, receiving strong support from all sectors of Palestinian civil society.

PCHR reiterates this call and also calls upon the Minster of Justice to reconsider the sentences handed down by these courts and transfer the cases to civil courts, in accordance with his decision to abolish state security courts, as well as the Palestinian President’s decision to merge state security prosecution with general prosecution. PCHR calls upon the Palestinian Legislative Council to meet its obligations and ensure respect for, and implementation of the laws it has approved.             

For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 - 2825893. PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. Website http://www.pchrgaza.org