On Monday, 04 March 2019, the Women’s Unit at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) held a Panel discussion titled as ” Palestinian Child Law and Aligning it with Personal Status Law” in PCHR’s Head office in Gaza City. The panel discussion was attended by Sheikh Dr. Hassan al-Jojo, Head of the Sharia Courts in Gaza, representatives of governmental, non-governmental and human rights organizations active in defending women and child.
Lawyer Raji Sourani, Director of PCHR, opened the panel and reviewed PCHR’s role in supporting women and children’s rights for more than 20 years, commending the ongoing cooperation between PCHR and the Higher Sharia Courts Council for long years. Sourani emphasized that PCHR paid special attention to women’s issues, indicating that the Palestinian division is the major impediment to the absence of PLC’s role in amending laws relevant to these issues.
The panel was facilitated by Mona Shawa, Head of PCHR’s Women’s Unit, who welcomed the attendees. She indicated that this meeting is not the first of its kind with the Council but comes as part of the ongoing dialogue between the organizations active in the field of child and women’s rights and the Council. Shawa added that this meeting aims at discussing the Palestinian Child Law and aligning it with the Personal Status Law, saying that although the 2004 Palestinian Child Law already intersects with the Personal Status Law in many important issues; mainly the best interest of the child in the custody cases, this law is so far inapplicable in the Sharia Courts.
Dr. Hassan al-Jojo, Head of the Sharia Courts in Gaza, praised PCHR’s role and emphasized the importance of holding such meetings periodically. He also called for promoting the cooperation and networking between the government and civil society organizations along with the Council to achieve what can be achieved from the national project, guarantee a decent life for our children and find solutions to activate the Palestinian Child Law in order to provide a way out of this situation, where the PLC is disrupted.
Lawyer Samir Hasaniyah, Consultant of PCHR’s Women Unit, reviewed most significant articles in the Personal Status Law that shall be abolished or amended to align with the articles in the Palestinian Child Law in a way that achieves the principle of gender equality and non-discrimination among children in the custody cases and equate the divorced woman with the widowed in regard with children’s custody as long as she locked herself for raising her children. Hasaniyah stressed that the marriage age shall be raised for the best interest of the
child that is protected by law. Hasaniyah added that it is very important to allow the child to choose when he/she reaches puberty in the custody cases, aiming at achieving the principle of gender equality and non-discrimination and applying the article that considers the child’s opinion in the judicial proceedings.
Hasaniyah also highlighted it is very important to activate Article 24 of the Palestinian Child Law, which provides undergoing a medical examination before getting married to assure that the two partners have no disease that would affect the health of their future children. As an immediate conclusion of this meeting, Dr. Hassan al-Jojo declared that he will issue a decision to activate article 24 of this law.
At the end of the meeting, the participants praised PCHR’s role in holding such meetings, calling for holding more similar meetings that give them the opportunity to discuss children and women’s issues and rights and the obstacles and solutions to them. The meeting came out with the following recommendations:
- Preparing a memorandum from the organizations active in the field of women and children’s rights that sets priorities for enforcing the articles of the Palestinian Child Law.
- Preparing a legal memorandum by PCHR on equating the divorced woman with the widowed in the custody of children and raising the age of marriage.
- The need to hold periodic meetings in relatively short periods to discuss the articles of the Palestinian Child Law in detail and in depth.
- All the participants unanimously agreed that 2019 will be year of the Palestinian child and efforts shall be exerted in issues that achieve the best interest of the child.