Ramallah / A special report entitled “Monitoring Manual of Fair Trial Guarantees in accordance with International Rules and National Laws in Palestine” was recently issued by the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) “The official Palestinian Human Rights Ombudsman”.
This manual is intended to lay down rules, standards and guarantees of a fair trial in front of all those who seek to assess criminal trials by investigating their compliance with and respect for the rules and standards of a fair trial enshrined in international instruments and national laws.
The manual, prepared by Advocates Gandhi Rabi, Ruba Yassin and Nora Barahmeh, notes that the provision of a fair trial is essential not only for the protection of the rights of the accused, but also for ensuring proper administration of justice as a cornerstone of the rule of law. The application of and respect for the rules and standards of a fair trial is an evidence of the effectiveness and transparency of the criminal justice system in the country, and respect for human rights, in order to achieve criminal justice. So, this right was given a special place enshrined in international instruments in the field of human rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture, and other relevant international declarations and covenants. The right to a fair trial was also enshrined in Palestinian legislation, chiefly the Palestinian Basic Law amended in 2003, the Palestinian Criminal Procedure Code of 2001, and the Judicial Authority Law of 2002, which their legal texts agree to a large extent with the standards and guarantees of a fair trial set out in International Human Rights Law, which promotes Palestinian criminal justice.
The monitoring manual explained that the process of monitoring and follow-up of criminal trials are crucial in defending human rights and freedoms and the rule of law. The right to monitor and follow up trials is originated from the general right to promote and ensure respect for and realization of human rights and public freedoms. Institutions concerned human rights issues have given a special and constant attention to this right and has become over the years the focus of concern among numerous international bodies. As part of ICHR’s endeavor to achieve its objectives, exemplified in following up and in ensuring the availability of the requirements for the preservation of human rights among the various Palestinian legislation, laws, regulations, departments and institutions, ICHR undertook the responsibility for monitoring the fair trial guarantees. This task can be done through monitoring, documenting and following up the fair trial guarantees in trials held in Palestinian courts, by investigating the trials’ compliance with and respect for the rules and standards of fair trial enshrined in national law, and its compatibility and compliance with the rules and standards of fair trial enshrined in the International Law of Human Rights, in addition to discussing the obstacles that may prevent the availability of these guarantees, through legal ways and means.
This manual provides practical advice for trial monitors on how to implement the trial monitoring process. It outlines the criteria and practical aspects that should be taken into account when preparing for the trial monitoring process and when implemented. It also provides a methodical approach to international and national norms and standards related to fair trial to be followed in criminal proceedings, composed of rules and standards for fair trial and the rules and standards of justice before and during the trial. It also sheds light on the additional safeguards that juvenile offenders are entitled to enjoy. This manual has been prepared for the trial monitors and others who evaluate the availability of standards and rules of justice in a particular trial. This manual is intended to lawyers, human rights defenders, and human rights organizations that would like to monitor the trials. It is also directed to the judges, prosecutors, judicial police, and other law enforcement officials, because it provides a methodical approach to national and international standards for fair trial.
This monitoring manual includes an introduction and five chapters. The first chapter deals with the trial monitoring process in terms of standards and practical aspects that should be taken into account before beginning the monitoring process and how to conduct it, in addition to the mechanism of monitoring report writing.
The second chapter reviews the rules and standards of international and national fair trial, and most important equality before the law and the judiciary, the right to litigation before an independent, impartial and competent judiciary and established by law.
Chapter three covers the norms and standards of justice before the international and national trial, reviewing the rights of the arrested or detained person, including his/her right to have access to his/her own information, access to a lawyer, contact with the outside world, to be brought promptly before a judge, to challenge the legality of detention, and other rights.
Chapter IV covers the rules and standards of justice during the international and national trial, and most importantly the right to litigation, defense, presumption of innocence, public consideration, and other rights.
Finally, chapter five deals with some detail guarantees of a fair trial for juvenile delinquents, is the most important determining the age of criminal responsibility for juveniles, most importantly determining the age of criminal responsibility for juveniles, conditions related to the juvenile welfare places, and the conditions to be fulfilled in juvenile justice.
A proposed questioner has been attached to the manual to monitor the trials and another set of supplements on the nature of the Palestinian judicial system, and the organizational structure of the arrangement of the Palestinian courts, its composition, its distribution according to the law, its types, its formation, its terms of reference, and its geographical distribution of different degrees.