The time has come to define the tasks, forms and types of intervention of the members of the tribal committees when addressing and resolving conflicts.
Written by: Hani Smirat
An auction in the Palestinian blood market: This can be described as the behavior of some members of the tribal committees in what is referred to as tribal reconciliation agreements. This is an image that we can clearly see during every reconciliation agreement on television or social media which does not differ in its contents from the auction of cars and real estate. Therefore, the auction ends when the Palestinian Blood Exchange Index reaches its highest levels, indicating self-abuse, compulsory negation of human values and uprooting the dignity of the human soul. There is no price equivalent to the value of a person, where this inhuman behavior of a public auction cannot be accepted, as it sets the price of individuals, does not respect the elders or youth and acts in disregard for moral values and public courts. Furthermore, there are complex and vague negotiations between the victim’s family and the guarantor on the one hand, and between the guarantor and the perpetrator’s family, on the other hand. There are also other parties that use the dispute as an opportunity to search for personal gain. The success or failure of the reconciliation agreement depends on two factors: the first being the amount of the money that the perpetrator’s family will pay, known as forced tribal compensation, which is a common factor in most cases of intentional homicide, while the second is the tribal evacuation of the perpetrator’s family from their home, which is not a common factor and differs according to each governorate.
Although the members of the tribal committees claim that harsher punishment for the perpetrator’s family would deter murders, the data indicates the opposite. The increase in the rate of intentional homicide is the main evidence that proves the invalidity of the members of the tribal committees’ claim. What is strange about the matter is that despite the similarity in intentional homicide cases, the difference is the size of the punishment for the victim’s family. It is not possible to understand the criterion of the size of the reconciliation agreement and the type of punishment. Factors such as the size of the family and the personality of the guarantor may be the main factors in the amount of tribal compensation that the perpetrator’s family will pay. Other factors may include whether the victim is male or female or the geographical location. While the power of the family, whether it is the family of the perpetrator or the victim, and the extent of their influence play the most important criterion for the size of the punishment.
This disparity and difference in estimating the size of the punishment from one family to another and from one governorate to another call for many questions about the credibility of the tribal system as a whole, and the system for classifying individuals based on social status or gender. Moreover, this classification and discrimination have become clear and cannot be denied or hidden, as it is inconsistent and contradictory to the principles and purposes of Shari’a Law, the law and the entire human rights system. We must believe that this lawless system is not an inevitable destiny of the Palestinian society and is not a sacred or absolute state.
Neither the phenomenon of multiple penalties nor the existence of more than one sanctioning authority can be accepted. Unfortunately, this is actually happening, as the tribal reform system imposes heavy penalties on the perpetrator and his family through the payment of exorbitant tribal compensation and forced tribal evacuation. The judiciary itself also imposes another punishment on the perpetrator through a court trial. This matter is contrary to the principles of Islamic law, especially the principle of personal punishment, where the individual is the only one responsible for his/her crime and shall bear his/her own burden. Only the perpetrator is responsible, where no one is held accountable for his/her crime other than him/her, regardless of the degree of his/her kinship or relationship with him/her. The noble Qur’an has stated this principle in many verses, including: God Almighty’s saying: (No person earns any (sin) except against himself (only), and no bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another.) [Al-An’am: 164] In addition, the phenomenon of multiple penalties violates the system of human rights and the principles of Palestinian law. The state is the only empowered one to issue legislation and penalties. Any punishment must be consistent with the principles of the state of law, especially the principle of state sovereignty and legitimacy, the prohibition of collective punishment and the right to a fair trial.
Perhaps many members of the tribal committees are ignorant of the negative consequences for wrongful adjudication of people’s disputes. Conflict resolution is a science in itself that needs practitioners, experienced and skilled people. In regards to intentional homicide cases specifically, we find that the victim’s family, despite their acceptance of the reconciliation agreement and obtainability of all their rights, neither stops their attempts at revenge nor forfeits their right until after it is raised. This result is the best example of the inability of members of the tribal committees’ attempts to permanently settle disputes. On the contrary, much of the tribal compensation that is paid to the victim’s family is used to buy weapons for the purpose of revenge, and fining the perpetrator’s family is in and of itself contrary to the Palestinian law because it falls under collective punishment. This fine also contributes to the increase in the perpetrator’s family’s poverty level and creates serious economic crises for the family, which may push them to an unknown fate.
I fully realize that the weak law enforcement authority is responsible for all the mistakes and abuses committed by the tribal committees’ reform system. The delay in resolving moral issues, the exorbitant costs of going to court, favoritism, legal transgressions, the small number of judges and many other reasons pushed the Palestinian community to search for other means, such as tribal reform, despite its disadvantages. Law enforcement agencies have claimed that the tribal committees’ reform system contributes to resolving conflicts, especially in areas that are not under the control of the Palestinian Authority. The time has come to define the tasks, forms and types of intervention of the members of the tribal committees when addressing and resolving conflicts. The role of members of the tribal committees should consist of calming the individuals who fear further violence until the arrival of law enforcement agencies. Also, the tribal authority should not have any role related to providing solutions, especially in penal cases.
The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Association or donor.