Palestinian women cautiously welcome new rights

Palestinian women watch the football match between Al-Nuseirat and Al-Jalaa standing outside the fence of the stadium at Nuseirat refugee camp, south of Gaza City, on January 28, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 06 March 2018
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Palestinian women cautiously welcome new rights

AMMAN: Palestinian activists and human rights organizations welcomed on Monday measures by the government to give more rights to women.
The changes include the right of Palestinian women to pass on their citizenship to their children and to open bank accounts in their names.
The Cabinet also recommended to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a series of legal amendments that include canceling or amending laws that allow rapists to avoid punishment by marrying their victims.
The decisions were announced following the Cabinet session on Monday.
The recommendations include the abolition of Article 308 of a Jordanian law still in effect in Palestine. The Jordanian Parliament abolished Article 308 (which pardons rapists who marry their victim) last August. The Palestinian government also recommended changes to the 1960 penal code, which allowed for lower punishment for acts of violence carried out in so-called “honor crimes.”
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said in a televised message that these changes “honor Palestinian women and that they are their rights and not a gift to them.” He vowed that more decisions advancing equality between women and men were planned.
The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights issued a statement welcoming the decisions, which comes ahead of Women’s Day on Thursday.
“More is needed to attain total equality and to be in total adherence with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly,” the commission said.
Salwa Hdaib, a member of the Fatah revolutionary council, told Arab News that Palestinian women’s goals for more equality were now much higher after recent changes to the law in other Arab countries such as Tunisia and Morocco.
“We deserve to have a much better legal system which truly equates the rights of men and women in political rights, in jobs and social justice,” she said.
Hdaib, who heads the Jerusalem Women's Movement, said that Palestinian women were still behind in divorce rights, inheritance and equal treatment in the courts.
“Palestinian women in general and women in Jerusalem have paid a huge price in the Palestinian struggle and they deserve nothing less than total equal rights and protection from their government and leaders.”
Lama Hourani, an activist in Ramallah and a community organizer, told Arab News that while she welcomed all improvements, she would wait and see what was in the amended laws that President Abbas will sign.
Hourani said that the personal status law, which covers issues including divorce, adoption and alimony, was in need of the most improvement. It includes laws that grant males twice the inheritance of a female.
“Until we reach total equality in our society we need to make major changes in the most important law in this regard, which is the personal status law. All other changes are nothing but cosmetic improvements.”
Hourani told Arab News that what was needed was to follow the signed international conventions that aimed to eliminate all forms of discrimination.


Bouteflika-era tycoon jailed for six months in Algeria

Updated 18 June 2019
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Bouteflika-era tycoon jailed for six months in Algeria

  • Ali Haddad was earlier arrested in possession of two passports
  • Haddad is widely perceived to have used his links to Bouteflika to build his business empire

ALGIERS: Algeria’s top businessman Ali Haddad, a key supporter of ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, was jailed for six months on Monday for holding two passports, in the first conviction in a string of corruption probes.

The business tycoon was arrested in late March on the border with Tunisia in possession of two passports and undeclared currency, days before Bouteflika resigned in the face of mass protests.

Haddad, who owns Algeria’s largest private construction company, is the first high-profile figure with ties to Bouteflika to be jailed since the president stepped down on April 2 after two decades in power. He was found guilty of the “unjustified procurement of administrative documents” and also fined 50,000 dinars ($420), state television reported.

Described by Forbes as one of Algeria’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Haddad is widely perceived to have used his links to Bouteflika to build his business empire.

The businessman, a key election campaign funder for Bouteflika, had denied breaking the law and said he obtained his second passport legally after seeking an interview with then-Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal.

The ex-premier and Haddad are among many businessmen and former politicians caught up in a separate anti-corruption investigation launched since the president stepped down.

Earlier this month Haddad’s lawyer, Khaled Bourayou, decried a “political trial” and told journalists the passport case had no legal basis.

The sentence is significantly lower than the 18 months term and fine of 100,000 dinars requested by the prosecutor.

Hassane Boualem, then-director of titles and secure documents at the Interior Ministry, was given a two-month suspended sentence and fined 20,000 dinars for issuing Haddad’s second passport in 2016.

He told the court he was following the orders of his superiors — Interior Ministry head Hocine Mazouz, Sellal and Algeria’s current premier, Noureddine Bedoui — who were not investigated over the affair.

Last week, a judge placed in detention two former prime ministers, Sellal as well as Ahmed Ouyahia, who served four terms as premier.

An investigating magistrate on Sunday conditionally released former Finance Minister Karim Djoudi as part of the corruption probes. Karim Djoudi, finance minister between 2007 and 2014, appeared before the supreme court’s magistrate in connection with the disappearance of public funds and abuse of office.

The supreme court is the only judicial body with jurisdiction over offenses committed in public office by government members, local officials and high magistrates.

Former Transport Minister Amar Tou was also conditionally released after appearing before the investigating magistrate.

Djoudi and Tou are among 12 former Algerian officials subject to preliminary probes for alleged criminal offenses.

Former Trade Minister Amara Benyounes has been detained in El Harrach prison, in an eastern suburb of Algiers, and former Public Works Minister Abdelghani Zaalane has been conditionally released.

Army chief General Gaid Salah, the key powerbroker in post-Bouteflika Algeria, vowed Monday that no one would be spared from the corruption probes.

The judiciary must “bring to justice all the corrupt regardless of their function or their social rank,” he said. “The fight against corruption knows no limit and no exception will be made to anyone... it’s time to settle accounts,” Salah said, adding it was “time to clean up our country.”

The graft probes have also seen a dozen Bouteflika-linked businessmen placed in preventative detention.

Demonstrations have continued since the ailing head of state stepped down, as protesters demand the fall of regime insiders and the establishment of independent institutions.