Ma'an News Agency
August 11, 2010 - 12:00am

The justice sector under the Palestinian Authority needs a clear separation of powers and a clarified jurisdictional scheme to make it more effective, officials from the Ministry of Justice say.

The minister and several key portfolio holders from the ministry gathered in Bethlehem on Saturday to conduct a three-day self-evaluation on the performance of the ministry and its branches.

Following the close of meetings Monday, ministerial undersecretary Khalil Karaja spoke with Ma'an.

The justice ministry has determined to change the relationship between different components of the sector, Kharaja said, explaining that the evaluation revealed poor coordination between departments and considerable overlap.

"We need to secure a flexible and complimentary system for the separation of powers," he said, adding that the ministry would seek guarantees from administrative, legislative, and technical bodies whose duties affect the role of the ministry.

"Decision-makers will also be demanding a restructuring of the justice sector with the aim of establishing a higher entity that connects justice to other relevant sectors," Kharaja explained.

The evaluation meeting comes as part of the government of Salam Fayyad's two-year plan to establish insitutions to support an indepenednt state, Karaja said, and drew on the start of a reform project from a tripartite committee appointed by President Mahmoud Abbas in 2008, charged with studying the justice sector as it developed.

When the committee submitted its recommendations, Karaja said, the government failed to act on or implement any of the changes suggested by the officials.

The latest evaluation started where the last one left off and aims to develop a training plan for the ministry’s administrative and legal cadres so the reforms can be uniform throughout the sector, he added.

Cooperation beyond the ministry to civil society groups

"What we also need is deliberate coordination between the ministry of justice, other ministries, and civil society groups," Karaja said, adding that a consultative council had already been activated, and its role would be expanded.

A further committee would be established, he said, to make sure the public was updated on the changes within the ministry, particularly as changes affected the justice process.


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