Our Inept Justice System

Everything seems to be collapsing in the nominally-autonomous enclave, known as the Palestinian Authority these days.

The executive authority, which really has no authority or sovereignty of its own, has become too authoritarian and tyrannical and, of course, too corrupt.

The legislative authority is paralyzed due to the mass incarceration by the Nazi-like Israeli occupation regime of dozens of lawmakers for their refusal to recognize the “legitimacy” of Zionism and the Israeli apartheid state.

And the media, the fourth estate, has likewise been thoroughly corrupted due to the virtual absence of press freedom and freedom of speech as a result of the consolidation of an American-sustained reign of terror now being consolidated in the West Bank.

Now, the Palestinian Justice System seems to be collapsing as well, mainly due to its growing subservience to the executive power, particularly to the police-state apparatus.

Our justice system is alive and kicking as far as its infrastructure, officials and trappings are concerned. However, when it comes to carrying out its central function, namely the administration of justice, it is conspicuously absent and utterly lifeless.

The rampancy of injustice and consistent violation of our people’s human rights and civil liberties at the hands of the security agencies are a clarion testimony to the corruption and impotence of the system.

In fact, the persistence of this anomaly gives the impression that our Ministry of Justice is merely an annex department answerable to the office of the PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

True, we are not an independent state, or even a quasi-state, and we can’t behave as if we were a sovereign state because we aren’t. Israel after all controls all aspects of our life and the PA itself is a little more than a submissive police force carrying out instructions issued by the occupying power. This is the truth irrespective of the stupid trappings and ostentatious self-deception displayed by PA people whose flamboyant behavior often gives the impression that a Palestinian state is in the making and that freedom for Palestine is finally around the corner.

None the less, it is amply clear that those entrusted with the administration of justice are miserably failing the public trust.

Indeed, when a serious malfunction of the justice system occurs anywhere in this world, the people entrusted with the administration of justice hasten to correct the imbalance with the resolve of a military commander.

And if and when the executive power shows disregard for the rule of law and constitution, the guardians of justice don’t just give in without a fight.  They put up a severe resistance to the forces of despotism and authoritarianism.

And if all efforts to uphold the rule of law fail, the guardians of justice and the constitution, the men and women of law, resign, preferably en mass, in order to embarrass the undemocratic forces and generate public pressure on them to reconsider their misbehavior.

In our country, we see that the security apparatus illegally arrests numerous innocent people, especially suspected political opponents, who are persecuted, tortured and even killed. This happens while our justice system behaves as if these grave violations of the law were happening in a distant land or on a different planet.

In our country, public servants are flagrantly fired from their jobs because of their religious, ideological or political convictions while our Ministry of Justice remains silent.

Moreover, rulings are issued by our courts, but in many cases the executive power, especially the security agencies, refuse to or at least procrastinate in carrying out court decisions.

However, instead of putting up a strong resistance to the contempt of court, our justice officials resort to pandering to and imploring these insolent agencies to heed the orders.

And when wronged citizens broach the courts for justice, they are often told that “we did what we could, and the rest is in the hands of God.”  Well, the rest is not in the hands of the God, it is rather in the hands of the police state apparatus.

In short, justice itself is raped a hundred times per day in our country,  without the slightest protest or opposition from those who are supposed to oversee the administration of justice.

Well, I would like to address our Ministry of Justice, our judges and men and women of the law in Palestine.

You are the ultimate address for the seekers of justice, and you must not betray them.

We don’t ask you to eradicate all the inequities in this world. But we do expect you to speak up against these blatant violations of our people’s rights and dignity.

I ask you: by what standard of morality is a teacher fired from his job because of his views and convictions?

By what moral justification are Palestinian homes raided in the dead of night and citizens are maltreated and savaged just because they happen to hold non-conformist views regarding the conflict with Israel?

The Ministry of Justice is supposed to be the most vigilant government department, given its paramount function and responsibility in upholding the rule of law.  However, if that ministry allows itself to be at the beck and call of the executive power, let alone the security agencies, as is currently the case, it means it has lost its raison d’être.

Hence, I would like to say a few words to the Minister of Justice, Ali Khashan, and the government’s legal advisor, Isa Abu Sharar: Declare your legal opinion concerning the serious breaches of justice in our country, and  try to rectify these violations.

If you can’t for one reason or the other, you should immediately resign.

You shouldn’t, you mustn’t allow yourselves to be witnesses and abettors to the rape of justice in Palestine.

Khalid Amayreh is a journalist living in Palestine. Read other articles by Khaled, or visit Khaled's website.