With an elbow bump in place of a handshake, EUPOL COPPS Head of Mission meets Minister of Justice to discuss ongoing cooperation

An elbow bump rather than a handshake, a respectful distance, and a Ministry of Justice where all but essential staff are teleworking – these were the socially responsible measures that formed the backdrop for a meeting between EUPOL COPPS Head of Mission Kauko Aaltomaa and Palestinian Minister of Justice Dr Mohammad Shalaldeh on 18 March.

The meeting was called to discuss the ongoing long-term cooperation between the Ministry and EUPOL COPPS on a number of important topics.

A central focus of the discussion was the work that EUPOL COPPS and the Ministry of Justice are doing on a strategic level, in particular cooperation on strategic documents such as the Justice Sector Strategic Plan. Before the emergency measures related to COVID-19 came into force, EUPOL COPPS supported a workshop for senior managers at the Ministry of Justice to discuss the strategy, and another workshop with other international organisations to encourage civil society input.

Dr Shalaldeh was keen to explore opportunities to increase capacity in the area of forensic science and invited the Mission to analyse the current structures supporting forensic investigations and provide input on how these can be improved. He also underlined his objective of improving the human rights situation, particularly when drafting legislation. The Minister also proposed setting up a mobile legal clinic, which can travel to remote areas and document and take reports from victims of human rights infringements, who otherwise might have no access to justice.

Another important topic of discussion was the harmonisation of Palestinian legislation with international treaties and conventions. This is a major area of cooperation between EUPOL COPPS and the Ministry of Justice, and is expected to continue despite the emergency measures in place to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Both EUPOL COPPS and the Ministry of Justice are trying to maintain as much business continuity as possible in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, while keeping their staff and those they come into contact with safe. Training sessions and study trips are currently suspended, however EUPOL COPPS advisers maintain contact with their Palestinian counterparts via phone and e-mail.

Source: European Union External Action