Date: 30 April 2006
PCHR Organizes a Seminar on the Draft Family Law
On Sunday morning, 30 April 2006, PCHR organized a seminar at its office in Khan Yunis on the draft Family Law. A number of Sharia’ judges and at least 30 persons representing women’s organizations and other civil society groups attended the seminar.
Deputy Director of PCHR, Jaber Wishah, opened the seminar welcoming the attendants. He drew the attention that this seminar was organized due to the importance of the issue and to conclude recommendation that may contribute to the drafting of a law that meet the aspirations and needs of the Palestinian people.
Director of PCHR Women’s Rights Unit, Muna Shawa, briefed the attendants on the activities conducted by the unit with regard to providing legal assistance and awareness raising programs. She highly appreciated the Sharia’ courts’ cooperation in this regard. She pointed out that the Family Law has been one of the major law addressed by the unit in the context of the legal awareness programs, as this law is very important and relevant to family relations and daily lives of women. She added that the comments concluded by the unit concerning the draft Family Law were the outcome of the unit’s practical experience in working with women, whether at Sharia’ court or at legal awareness programs.
Head of the Appeal Court in Khan Yunis, Maher Khudair, spoke on behalf of the Chief Judge of Palestine, Tayseer al-Tamimi, who was not able to attend the seminar due to the restrictions imposed by Israeli Occupation Force on the movement between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. He addressed two issues: the reasons for promulgating a Palestinian family law, which applies to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, contrary to the current situation, where the Jordanian law is applied in the West Bank and the Egyptian law is applied in the Gaza Strip; and the practical steps to approve the draft Family Law. He further highlighted some important principles, including that the main source for the provisions of this law is the Islamic Sharia’, and that the law includes a number of procedures to facilitate suing before Sharia’ courts. At the end of his intervention, he declared that the Alimony Law has entered into force, which will bridge the gabs and end the problems faced by poor women with regard to the implementation of court rulings.
The former Judge of the High Court of Justice, Sheikh Saber al-Farra, stressed that the draft Family Law does not include some principles of the Sharia’. He emphasized that the legal wording
of the law is flexible, which gives judges margins of freedom to serve the interests of our country and its people.
A Women’s Rights Unit lawyer, Sameer Hassaniya, focused on PCHR comments on the draft Family Law, in which PCHR tried to make the law consistent with international human rights standards, particularly the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. He highlighted both positive and negative aspects in the law, indicating that the law in general meets many of the demands to amend the law. However, he added, there is a need for more amendments.
The door was then opened to discussion, and judges answered questions raised by the attendants. The seminar concluded a number of recommendations:
1. More similar meetings should be held to discuss the draft Family Law, and make recommendations to the Chief Judge and the Legislation Council.
2. The law should include a number of other issues, which are not included in the draft law.
3. The draft Family Law should conform to existing relevant laws.
4. The draft law should be consistent with international human rights standards.
5. The draft Family Law should be presented to the Palestinian Legislative Council soon for approval.