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Palestinian Bar Association hails victory as Abbas cancels new legislation

Jerusalem24 – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas officially canceled today the enforcement of legislation amending the procedural laws and the implementation law which the Palestinian Bar Association had been protesting against over the past several weeks.

The protests included a march to the Palestinian presidency headquarters in Ramallah, a sit-in in front of the Courts Complex in Ramallah, along with boycotting the courts on multiple occasions over the past few weeks.

The Bar Association was protesting, amongst other legislative measures, allowing a court hearing to proceed without the presence of the defendant.

The “essence of the problem” in the amended procedural laws “lies in the absence of guarantees of the right to litigation,” according to the Bar Association.

The defendant’s presence before a judge is paramount, so that the judge can not only monitor the integrity of the procedures, but also monitor the defendant’s safety from being subjected to torture, abuse or harsh punishment.

A number of civil society institutions as well as the media expressed solidarity with the movement, including human rights organization Al-Haq.

Al-Haq said in July that the closure of certain courts to lawyers engaging in peaceful protests, as well as the deployment of riot police around peaceful sit-ins, constitute “a violation of the constitutional right of lawyers and citizens in general to access justice and a violation of the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, and a violation of the right to peaceful assembly guaranteed for all in Palestinian Basic Law.”

Al-Haq said the amendments “seriously affected the guarantees to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence.”

Following the Palestinian Authority’s announcement on Sunday that the new amendment would be canceled, Al-Haq released a statement welcoming the decision by President Abbas, as well as calling “for presidential and legislative council elections and for the National Council and the restoration of the Palestinian political system, to ensure the participation of the Palestinian people in public decisions, as well as the election of their representatives, the restoration of national unity and the end of political division.”

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