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PA security official slams anti-corruption report as 'self-serving'

Jan. 31, 2013 6:55 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 3, 2013 9:34 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- The spokesman of the Palestinian Authority security services Adnan Dmeiri on Thursday accused an international anti-corruption group of bias after it published a report on defense spending across the world.

Transparency International issued the Government Defense Anti-Corruption Index this week, ranking Palestine in the third-highest band of risk of corruption, out of seven gradings.

Dmeiri held a news conference in Ramallah to respond to the report, accusing Transparency International and the group's local chapter Transparency Palestine (Aman) of trying to aggrandize themselves at the expense of the security forces by leveling false accusations.

"The report is political and subjective and its goal is to serve personal interests," the official said.

He said the numbers in the report were incorrect and stated there is only one funding stream for Palestinian security, via legal channels.

In its global index, Transparency International noted that while the overall PA defense budget is published online, it does not include a breakdown. As there is no access to information law in Palestine, there is no requirement that the budget go into specifics, the report warned.

Transparency International also voiced concern that without any parliament in session since 2007, there is no oversight of the defense budget.

There is also no law regulating the selection and monitoring of "personnel in sensitive positions," it continued.

Further, it says that despite laws to protect whistle-blowers, nearly half of security personnel are afraid to report cases.

However the report notes improved financial oversight and a salary scale, and says there is no evidence of organized crime, or vested business interests within the security forces.

In response, Dmeiri gave the news conference some figures on the finances behind the security forces. He said 70 percent of security officers earn less than 2,000 shekels ($530) each month.

He noted that the security forces employ 70,000 people, and said just 30,000 are in the West Bank. The remainder were security officers in Gaza before the Palestinian governments split, and still receive salaries despite being out of action.

Last year, a Transparency International report prompted the arrest of a Palestinian columnist who based an article around it for Ma'an and other Palestinian news outlets.

The columnist, Jihad Harb, was interrogated by the PA after a complaint was filed by the president's office over his article criticizing their hiring practices.
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