NSDL organized a study day, entitled “Panel Code and how much it is compatible with the international criteria of women’s rights” at the hall of the Happy Land resort in KhanYounis, within the framework of the project of ” Protecting women’s life, rights and dignity in the Southern Gaza Strip”, funded by Sawasya ” the Joint Programme UNDP/UN Women/UNICEF, Promoting the Rule of Law in the State of Palestine.
Dr. Ibrahim Muammar, the chairman of NSDL, opened the meeting by welcoming the guests, and then he talked briefly about the project and the role of the organization in providing the vulnerable groups, particularly women, with legal services through the legal clinic. He added that it was necessary to amend the domestic laws in compliance with the international treaties and conventions that Palestine has recently signed in order to maintain the services of the Palestinian society in general and the groups of women in particular. Moreover, he called to end the violations against women by taking serious and practical steps by all of the stakeholders.
It is noteworthy to mention that lawyer Said Abdullah chaired the session. When the speakers were asked to present their working papers, Mr. Ziad Al Najar was the first to present his working paper; which was about the Palestinian Panel Code applied in the Gaza Strip, (law no. 74 of 1936). He said that although the abovementioned law was quite old, it was not good enough. Since there was extremely rapid development of technology, such laws had to be amended and improved. He commented that the law applied in the West Bank was completely different from the one applied in the Gaza Strip. He mentioned that the internal division has contributed at having different laws in the same country, and he confirmed that unifying the laws was a national demand. He strongly called for mending the laws and deleting the articles, which tolerated with people committing honor crimes. He also called to repeal the amendments put in the Panel Code applied in the Gaza Strip, for they were useless and did not help to tackle the problems. He stressed his rejection of tribal reconciliation “informal justice” in such cases because it gave the criminals the green card to commit such crimes repeatedly.
Dr. Tariq Mkhemar, an officer in the OHCHR, presented a working paper about the compatibility of Panel Code with the international criteria of women’s rights. He emphasized that Palestine was a state and it was its right to join the international treaties and conventions and, consequently, amend its laws in compliance with them. He mentioned that they have monitored a tremendous number of violations against the law such as extrajudicial killings, honor crimes and enacting legislations violating the international laws, especially after the Palestinian division has been deepened. He confirmed that the authority had to implement its international commitments and amend its domestic laws in compliance with the signed international treaties and conventions.
Ms. Mona Abdel Aziz “from the Norwegian Refugee Council” presented her working paper about the mechanisms of the Panel Code handling with murders of women”. She explained the vulnerability of the applied laws dealing with women killers, since they tolerated with male criminals committing honor crimes, “article (18) in the Panel Code applied in the Gaza Strip”. Yet, it did not give women the right to kill using the same justification. She called to derogate from this article, for many women were killed based on this article. In addition, many rape cases were closed without punishing the perpetrators. The murders were mostly get married to their victims. The families of the victims believed that such a solution was the best for their daughters. In the end, she called to have a better and fairer justice and to review the applied laws related to women.
A group of legal and media figures, governmental institutions and civil society institutions participated in the study day. At the end of the day, everyone was given a chance to express their opinions and raise their questions. All of the inquiries were answered and, accordingly, a set of recommendations were made to ensure a better life for the battered women.
The recommendations were:
1- Unifying the laws all over the country.
2- Reviewing Panel Code making sure it would get in compliance with the international human rights conventions.
3- Raising the legal awareness regarding the Palestinian laws and the international human rights conventions.
4- Enhancing the cooperation and networking between the civil society institutions to uphold human rights and particularly women’s rights.