The Official Launching of the Forensic Services for the Palestinian National Authority

The Forensic Services for the Palestinian National Authority project was launched on Thursday, 8/12/2011 at Hotel Caesar in Ramallah under the auspices of the Ministers of Interior, Justice and Planning in cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The project aims to improve the institutional capacity of the forensic laboratory and forensic medicine to manage and deliver services in an integrated manner within the Palestinian territories.

The launch was attended by the Minister of Interior, Dr. Said Abu Ali, the Minister of Justice, Dr. Ali Khashan, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Planning, Ahmad Abbas, the Attorney General Ahmad Mghanni, a representative of UNODC HQ, Mr. Justice Tettey and a representative of UNODC Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, Mr.Leif Villadsen.

Dr. Abu Ali gave the opening speech during which he highlighted the importance of the project and affirmed the completion of the necessary steps required for the implementation of the initial phase of the project. Dr. Abu Ali explained,

"In the Ministry of Interior, this project has been a key focus within our comprehensive strategy and we strive for cooperation and integration with our partners in the Justice Sector. We believe this project to be fundamental in achieving progress in the Security Sector in both a professional and an efficient manner. In addition to this is the necessity of fulfilling the primary responsibility of our state that strives to develop. We have taken on this responsibility in commitment to President Mahmoud Abbas and in the strong will of the Palestinian people. We have devoted and will continue to devote our efforts to well thought out strategies in order to develop our state. We have fulfilled many accomplishments, which are of great concern to our people, in our Justice and Security Systems. Justice and democracy have motivated us to prioritize our community on the basis of achieving social justice, putting an end to crime and corruption and being dedicated to the principles of the rule of law and of justice."

Dr. Abu Ali affirmed the Ministry of Interior's partnership with the Justice Sector and with several civil society organizations. He also stressed upon the Ministry's continued work on the launch of this project, the arrangement of expertise and the training of police officers for the provision of all requirements.  Finally, Dr. Abu Ali reaffirmed the Ministry's commitment to continued cooperation for the success of the project in order to serve justice within international regulations.

Dr. Abu Ali thanked all stakeholders in this project particularly the Canadian government and the United Nations bodies that are working with the Ministries of Interior, Justice and Planning to ensure the success of this project.

Dr. Ali Khashan emphasized that there is an interdependent link between security and justice in that just as security cannot be achieved without justice; justice cannot be achieved without security. Dr. Khashan stressed upon the fact that the Ministries of Health, Interior and the other relevant Ministries in Palestine all share one goal in common: to recognize and safeguard human dignity for all Palestinians. Similarly, forensic medicine is also concerned with human dignity and it is from this similarity that forensic medicine must be developed within the principle of the rule of law, out of respect for human rights and in line with the government's programme to develop the state.. Dr. Khashan concluded that the success of the project requires greater cooperation in the field of criminal justice.

Ahmed Abbas expressed that the establishment of governing institutions in Palestine and the improvement and strengthening of their work is one of the priorities that have been approved by all national plans issued by the Palestinian National Authority since 1994. He also explained that Palestinian Institutions have reached an advanced level in the provision of services and that Palestine had surpassed the minimum level required for the state's development. Abbas stated that this accomplishment has been acknowledged by the international community; most importantly by major donors, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations. Furthermore Abbas stressed that the launch of the Forensic Services project and the National Authority's research of forensic science is the culmination of considerable efforts conducted by a working team over a period of three years.

Mr. Justice Tettey, the representative of UNODC - HQ congratulated the Palestinian National Authority on this achievement and added that the UNODC aims to support the criminal justice system. Mr. Tettey added that the availability of such services aids in the provision of critical information in the process of criminal investigation.

Furthermore, Mr. Tettey added that the project will strengthen the foundation and legislative tools, will work to develop and increase the capacity of people working in the field, will improve the quality standards and will lead to the development of new practices to ensure sustainability.

Brigadier Jaber Asfour, the Assistant Director General of Police for Criminal Research announced the launching of a fingerprints programme in Palestine in cooperation with partners from the German Government, in addition to working on the fingerprinting archive with the Criminal Investigation Department.

Asfour noted that the launch of the forensic science project will strengthen the general administration of the Criminal Investigation Department, will contribute to the development of its work, will help in strengthening the justice sector and will safeguard human dignity and good governance.

Dr. Ziad Al-Ashhab indicated that modern forensic science applies medical science to solve many of the cases that judges cannot issue rulings over. Dr. Al-Ashhab explained that forensic science is useful for the judiciary and is considered a fundamental pillar of the rule of law through its assistance of elements of justice in criminal investigations and various misdemeanours and medical experts, whether civil or criminal.

Mr. Villadsen expressed his gratitude to the Palestinian National Authority, particularly the Ministries of Interior, Justice and Planning, and Canadian Agency for International Development (CIDA) for their support of the programme in the fight against terrorism and drugs and the promotion of social justice services in providing technical support and training programmes in the pursuit of justice and respect for human rights.