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Palestine

The Geneva Center for Security Sector Governance (DCAF) has been working in the Palestinian Territories since 2005 as a neutral and independent organization. It has office in Ramallah. DCAF aims to assist Palestinians in promoting good security sector governance. It encourages the development of effective, efficient, and transparent actors in the areas of security and justice that are subject to the oversight and supervision of the Palestinian executive and legislative authorities, which is fully accountable to Palestinian civil society and its elected leaders.

DCAF contributes to promoting peace and stability in the region. In Ramallah and the West Bank, DCAF supports the Palestinian authorities and oversight bodies at the central and governorate levels (ie the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Interior, the Palestinian Authority Security Forces, the Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Constitutional Court, the governorates, etc.).

Find out more about our work in Palestine: Download DCAF Palestine Country Strategy

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Police training at Al-Istiqlal University, Jericho. Photo: Arine Rinawi

Workstreams/Projects

DCAF’s intervention follows a logic revolving around 5 tracks, including the support to reinforcing oversight, improving communication and access to information, regulatory assistance, promotion of inclusive dialogue on security needs and support to managing change of security providers. 
 

DCAF has worked in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) since 2005 and has established itself as a trusted and specialist institution, helping its partners to strengthen the rule of law, and increase transparency and accountability. DCAF Palestine projects aimed to contribute to the development of a Palestinian security and justice sector that is legitimate, trusted and respectful of the rule of law and human rights.

The security sector is by far the largest public sector in the oPt, receiving significant international funding and logistical and technical support – and yet, the sector lacks good governance on many levels. Oversight and transparency are weak, laws and policies are often unclear or contrary to international conventions, and the security needs of citizens are frequently not met. DCAF Ramallah projects were designed as a contribution towards addressing these governance and service delivery deficits. 

DCAF focused on achieving concrete results on the ground, which benefited not only the Palestinian institutions: The executive and judicial authorities that manage and oversee the security forces, the Palestinian security forces, local governorates, civil and media organisations that oversee the security forces, but it also improved the life of the final beneficiaries: the Palestinian citizens. Additionally, improving democratic governance and building legitimate and accountable Palestinian state institutions is a precondition for lasting peace and regional stability.

 

 

 

Strong public oversight of the security sector is crucial in order to hold security forces accountable. Having effective public oversight in the Palestinian security sector requires accumulative strong effort by different actors, such as formal oversight bodies, Anti-corruption commission, and the Independent Commission of Human Rights (ICHR). DCAF Ramallah conducted several projects on improving public oversight. It targets to improve information-sharing between the media and the security forces and executive authorities. It also organised training workshops for and between the Palestinian Journalists and security forces/authorities to build confidence, consolidate understanding of mutual needs and improve access to information and reform complaints system. It also assisted the Council of Ministers, as well as selected governorates in publishing official data on security related service provision. 

All activities were directly recommended by the Palestinian local partners. 

DCAF has worked on strengthening effective oversight in the security sector that aim at strengthening formal and informal oversight mechanisms, focusing on the following activities:

Activities:

Supporting citizens’ complaints mechanisms:
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS: Since 2010, DCAF has worked in Palestine to support the strengthening of mechanisms that allow citizens to submit complaints about misconduct or violations of citizens’ rights by public institutions and security agencies. This in turn improves the accountability, and perception of the security forces, and helps them direct their services towards the needs of citizens. DCAF projects aimed at reforming the Palestinian complaints system to be in line with international standards to respond to citizen’s complaints more effectively. 

DCAF has worked to improve the effectiveness of complaints mechanisms in the Palestinian security sector, their transparency and the coordination between the mechanisms.

To this end, it has supported the Palestinian institutions in 

  • reviewing the legal basis for complaints mechanisms
  • coordinating the complaints units themselves via a coordination platform
  • increasing the transparency of complaints units, by helping them report on their activities in a systemised way
  • building the capacity of staff in complaints units
  • enhancing the role that civil society and media play in the process.

Supporting oversight bodies: Public oversight bodies play an important role, especially when it comes to financial oversight and anti-corruption efforts. In the occupied Palestinian territories this role is exercised by two independent authorities, the Palestinian State Audit and Administrative Control Bureau (SAACB) and the Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC). It is part of their mandate to strengthen the internal control mechanisms of the security forces and in the long-term build a fruitful working relationship with all security forces.  

State Audit and Administrative Control Bureau (SAACB): DCAF has supported SAACB in building the capacities of its financial controllers to enhance their skills in fighting corruption and prevention measures. This in turn will strengthen their access and role in working with the executive authority and the security forces. 

Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC): DCAF has supported PACC in developing regulations and organizing training workshops and conferences to build confidence, consolidate understanding of mutual needs, and improve access to information and transparency. This in turn will strengthen PACC access and role in working with the executive authority and the security forces. DCAF in cooperation with PACC published two handbooks on Gifts Regulations and Disclosure of Conflict of Interests Regulations.

Supporting informal oversight organizations: DCAF worked with and supported civil society organizations by building their capacities to monitor detention centers. DCAF in cooperation with Al-Haq developed monitoring methodology of the prison system in Palestine, prepare human rights monitors for visits to detention spaces to build an observatory of the situation of torture in Palestine, provide periodic reports and help develop national strategies against torture and the Prevention of Torture. Awareness and capacity building training also was conducted to train the staff of concerned civil society organizations to promote human rights and combat torture. DCAF in cooperation with Al Haq a Publication on ‘Prevention of Torture, Monitoring, Documentation, and Means of Confrontation Report’.

 

 

 

DCAF supports security agencies and other public institutions on more effective communication and information-sharing. The aim is to improve public access to information concerning the security sector, empower media and other oversight actors, thus promoting accountability.

Activities:

COUNCIL OF MINISTERS:
Since 2014, DCAF has supported the Council of Ministers in developing and publishing the annual report on complaints which improves information-sharing by the security forces and executive authorities. This contributes to have Palestinian security institution more accountable towards Palestinian citizens through strengthened oversight by means of enhancing the complaints system and developed capacities of oversight institutions.

Improving information-sharing between media and security forces
DCAF organized debate sessions between journalists and the public relations staff in the security forces to improve the communications and bridge the gap between the journalists and the security officers. In the field. DCAF in cooperation with the Human Rights Unit in the Ministry of Interior developed Guidelines on how journalists and security officers should deal with each other and to guide them on how to act when they cover events in which security officers are present. The guidelines strengthen the level of communication between the journalists and the security officers.    

Awareness-raising activities:
In 2020, Palestinian citizens were informed of the utility and accessibility of existing complaints mechanisms at the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP) during the state of emergency by means of a public awareness-raising campaign facilitated by DCAF and Wattan Media Network in the form of three public service announcements (PSAs). During this same period, DCAF and Wattan broadcasted four radio interviews where senior representatives of the PCP engaged directly with citizens in facilitated dialogues regarding the impact of the state of emergency, complaints mechanisms, and the usage of the complaints system in instances of domestic violence. This initiative became even more essential due to the isolating and restrictive nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

 

DCAF fosters the capacity of local stakeholders to develop effective Palestinian legislation in line with international standards. To ensure that the legislative reform process in the oPt takes place on a solid basis, DCAF facilitated a broad and inclusive process, organising consultations between Palestinian civil society representatives and the security institutions, to discuss existing and draft security legislation. 

Activities:

Ministry of Interior

  • Reviewed a draft law on military justice and presented a set of recommendations to the Military Justice Authority for further amendments. 
  • Supported the Palestinian MoI on developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for health care provision in detention facilities in line with international conventions. 

Office of President
Supported the PA in reflecting international conventions it had ratified both in terms of national legislation and practice of the security forces. 

ICHR
DCAF published a report on the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). 

As practical steps to improve the practices of the security forces and detention centres. DCAF implemented two one-week trainings for senior security officers on obligations of international human right treaties, including the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT). 
 

 

 

DCAF supports national and local efforts to improve the gender balance amongst security forces and works to promote the security needs of all Palestinians. Since 2009, DCAF implemented several projects on women and security, which aimed to assist the Palestinian security forces, in particular, Gender Units in the Security Forces, in strengthening the capacity of its personnel to deliver their services in a gender-sensitive manner, and to contribute to their understanding of human rights and international regulations, such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325).

Activities:
Ministry of Interior:
DCAF in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior implemented the following activities:

  • Developed a guide on the security council resolution 1325
  • Drafted and published guidelines on integrating gender equality into policies, plans and programmes of Palestinian security institutions.
  • Trained Gender Consultative Committee (GCC) members on communication, networking and dissemination skills.
  • Trained CSO representatives on gender, security sector reform and communication.
  • Held joint workshops for the GCC and CSOs to establish channels of communication and coordination mechanisms.

Community safety:
DCAF in cooperation with Human Rights and Democracy Media Centre (SHAMS) have been working jointly on a community safety project since 2008. As a result of the partnership, 

  • The President issued a decision to establish community safety council
  • Community Safety Councils in Hebron and Jenin were successfully established;
  • A community safety strategic plan was developed for the governorates of Hebron, Jenin, Tulkarem and Bethlehem, and endorsed by the Governors to promote community safety and the rule of law. 
  • Capacity building training courses for governorate employees of five governorates were trained on promoting civil peace and alternative dispute resolution methods. 
  • Conducted awareness raising media campaign on threats to community safety and increase the outreach of community safety councils, which resulted in the PCP designating a focal point to liaise with reconciliation/tribal leaders in the main police stations of each governorate.

Facilitating Palestinian national reconciliation:
DCAF worked on facilitating Palestinian national reconciliation by improving the human rights situation in Gaza. This contributed towards reducing grievances and maintaining institutional coherence between the West Bank and Gaza. 

  • DCAF implemented three trainings on modern interrogation and evidence gathering techniques for 80 staff of three security departments, to help them rely on evidence rather than forced confessions. 
  • DCAF built the capacities of independent staff of the criminal justice system in Gaza by implementing a series of trainings.
  • DCAF implemented three training courses for 30 judges, 30 prosecutors and 30 detention staff on key aspects of criminal justice, including the detection of torture and ill-treatment.
  • DCAF organised the second and third judiciary conference ever to be hold in Gaza in December 2016 and February 2018, bringing together 250 practitioners and experts on the criminal justice system to discuss possibilities for increased cooperation across the criminal justice chain. 

 

 

DCAF contributes to the development of strategic management skills and structures to enable representatives of the Palestinian authorities to adjust their planning to the strategic environment. 

Ministry of Interior:

  • DCAF assisted the Palestinian MoI in developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for health care provision in detention facilities in line with international conventions 
  • DCAF in cooperation with the MoI conducted training course for the Military intelligence agencies on human rights in detention centers. DCAF and the Military Intelligence conducted two trainings for military intelligence personnel on “Promoting Human Rights and Justice in Military Prisons” in order to strengthen the personnel’s capacities and improve their knowledge of the rights, duties and functions of security personnel tasked with judicial duties. The trainings also stressed the importance of the Code of Professional Conduct for Military Intelligence personnel and restrictions regarding use of force and firearms. 


Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission and the security forces:

  • Conducted training courses and training of trainers (ToT) on ‘Strategic planning to build Integrity and transparency in the Palestinian Security Sector for members of the Integrity Team in the security side of the MoI. The training was to discuss the draft training plan and curriculum by the Integrity Team in order to start train their colleagues in the districts on integrity and transparency. 

Governorates of Hebron, Jenin, Bethlehem and Tulkarem:

  • Assisted the Governorate of Ramallah/Al-Bireh to improve its transparency. It conducted a comprehensive assessment of the Governorate’s work, which highlighted serious deficits in citizen engagement and transparency regarding public service delivery.  To follow up on a major recommendation of the assessment, DCAF assisted the Governorate of Ramallah/Al-Bireh in publishing its first annual report in 2017.  

Civil society organizations and media outlets:

  • Conducted conversation sessions between the security forces and journalists to build trust between them. 
  • Redrafted the Code of Conduct to professionalise journalism in cooperation of the Palestinian Journalist Syndicate and PACC.

National Prevention Mechanisms
DCAF is already actively involved in the lead up to the establishment of the NPM following the PA’s ratification of the OPCAT. Its work has focused on creating a platform for policy discussions between key stakeholders and decisionmakers, raising awareness of the mechanism within civil society (trainings for youth leaders with the NGO Al-Haq), and supporting the development of the mechanism’s legal framework.

  • DCAF organised several training courses for staff of security agencies working in detention centres to enhance their understanding of the NPM. Participants represented the detention and rehabilitation centres at the Civil Police, Preventive Security Agency, and General Intelligence. 
  •  November 2019, DCAF organised a study visit in Geneva for a high-level delegation of stakeholders involved in the establishment of the Palestinian NPM. The visit aimed to strengthen their knowledge on NPMs and their frameworks, as well as to expose them to international best practices, in particular in terms of independence of the NPM. The delegation met with members of the SPT and CAT, representatives of the ICRC and the APT, as well as with representatives of the French, Swiss, Italian and Tunisian NPMs. 
  • In December 2019, DCAF and Al-Haq held a ToT workshop for 25 participants (including 16 women) representing youth forums from the West Bank to introduce the NPM mandate and develop a plan to raise youth awareness on the NPM. 
  • Building upon this activity, DCAF supported the translation of a shadow report prepared by a coalition of local human rights CSO partners, led by Al-Haq. The shadow report reviewed the extent to which the State of Palestine fulfils its obligations under CAT and provided its recommendations to the Committee Against Torture.
  • DCAF, in cooperation with SHAMS, conducted a multi-platform media campaign that targeted citizens to raise awareness on OPCAT and the NPM including the way it works and its prerogatives. In 2020, DCAF partnered with Al-Haq and its coalition to develop a more standardised monitoring methodology of the prison system in Palestine, prepare human rights monitors for visits to detention spaces, and continue awareness-raising activities related to torture prevention and the NPM
     

 

 

Marsad (meaning observatory in Arabic) Palestine is an online platform that monitors the Palestinian Security Sector. It provides search tools in order to allow stakeholders to easily access information. Marsad monitors media reporting, research, analysis and events related to the security sector in Palestine. To this end, relevant press articles, research papers, books, sound clips, videos, and photos are stored in an online database. Further to this, a timeline on the website continuously updates relevant events and incidents related to the Palestinian security sector.

Marsad seeks to contribute to an informed and inclusive debate regarding the security sector in Palestine and operates on a non-partisan and independent basis. It is a concrete entry point to support local media organisations and provide the opportunity for improving local reporting on which Marsad can rely in the future.

Marsad Palestine is managed by the Middle East and North Africa (MANA) division of the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance – DCAF. 
To learn more about the platform, please visit www.marsad.ps

You can reach our team via: info@marsad.ps

DCAF further developed its online Palestinian Security Sector Reform Observatory (Marsad, www.marsad.ps) which publishes security sector related news articles and analysis on a daily basis. 
 

 

 

DCAF created an online database of security sector legislation in the oPt. which is free and easy access to Palestinian security sector legislation, and provided all stakeholders with an overview of legislative reform needs,

  • The Palestinian security sector legal database provides up-to-date access to current and revoked laws governing the security sector. It covers the period from 1995 until 2018. DCAF has collected more than 200 legal texts (laws, regulations, decrees, decisions, decree laws, etc.) that are currently being digitalized.
  • The database provides core security providers, government, legislators, judicial authorities, supervisory institutions, civil society, and media with direct and accurate access to the legal framework governing the security sector in Palestine. This will strengthen both formal and informal oversight of the security sector according to democratic principles and the rule of law.

Legal Database for the security sector legislations in Palestine Website: https://security-legislation.ps/

 

 
Eman Redwan Acting Head, DCAF Ramallah Office
Samah Khoury Operations Support Manager
Intisar Abukhalaf Project Manager
Ahmad Atta Logistical Assistant

 

PUBLICATIONS

Contacts

Eman Redwan: Acting Head, DCAF Ramallah Office (e.redwan@dcaf.ch)

Mark Ewing, Head of Middle East Desk (m.ewing@dcaf.ch)