On Wednesday 27 July, EUPOL COPPS supported several Justice and Police Institutions in organising a donor event on the topic of “fair trial”. The aim of the meeting was to show to the international donor community a unity of purpose within the Justice Sector in the ambition to achieve the full realisation of the right to fair trial in Palestine. Palestinian representatives from the High Judicial Council, the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General office, the Palestinian Bar Association and the Palestinian Civil Police attended the meeting.
Two years ago EUPOL COPPS, together with the above mentioned counterparts, started an assessment of the state of play regarding the fulfilment of the right to a fair trial in the criminal justice theatre. Over this period, an inventory was made on gaps in legislation, interpretation, and operational practice.
A Working Group on Fair Trial was established to reach a common understanding of the international fair trial guarantees. Several topics were discussed, including the uniformisation of the interpretation of those guarantees, the analysis of the Palestinian legal framework in the context of fair trial obligations mirrored against the international obligations and the identification of potential shortfalls when it comes to implementation.
During the current event, over 70 joint recommendations were presented in a comprehensive set, for endorsement by the Heads of the Institutions and for donor consideration. The message delivered was that, if implemented, it would boost an upgrade of the Criminal Justice system along the lines of international principles and best practices.
The Heads of Institutions reacted positively, pointing out that fair trial was already part and parcel of the National Development Plan and were unanimous in their message to consider the recommendations favourably, whereas the attending donors were also receptive in bringing the recommendations forward into their longer term development plans.
In the upcoming 6 months period EUPOL COPPS together with Palestinian counterparts will work to develop ‘practical and effective’ tools and mechanisms in realization of the right to a fair trial, including setting ‘fair trial’ priorities through the launch of a national strategy on fair trial. This process will result in significant further improvements in the application of the Rule of Law in Palestine.