Israel extends law exempting security forces from documenting investigations of terror suspects (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Tomer Zarchin 07/04/12)
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Despite opposition of human rights groups, the Knesset´s
Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved on Tuesday an
extension of temporary legislation exempting the Shin Bet from
documenting investigations of suspected security offenders.
According to the existing law, investigations of offenses that may
result in punishment of more than 10 years must be filmed or
recorded. But the temporary legislation, which was extended by three
years before expiring at midnight on Tuesday, allows an exemption of
security investigations over the past nine years.
The written explanation of the need for the temporary legislation
extension stated that "in the special circumstances of security
investigations that deal with organized extremist terror
organizations, such documentation may significantly damage the
quality and actual possibility of such investigations, thus hampering
the capability of dealing with terror threats."
Representatives of the Shin Bet told the committee that according to
their professional legal advice, such legislation should be
permanent. Due to the opposition of ministers Dan Meridor and Michael
Eitan, the government agreed to extend the exemption by two years,
until a new terror law is formulated.
The Shin Bet´s head of investigation department, who participated in
the debate, explained that "Shin Bet investigations are documented
and reviewed from beginning to end. We are not discussing human
rights, but protection of investigation methods. The exemption is
necessary since our enemies learn our investigation methods."
Representatives of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)
and the Public Defender´s Office opposed the extension, insisted that
there is utmost importance in such documentation. Attorney Layla
Margalit of ACRI and Rachel Daniely of the Public Defender´s Office
argued that the exemption request for all security investigations is
unbalanced and too comprehensive.
ACRI submitted a document to the committee explaining the utmost
importance of documenting security investigations, not only for the
purpose of guaranteeing the credibility of confessions, but also for
promising a proper investigation and preventing unacceptable
The document added that "suspects under arrest are the main group of
people exposed to the danger of humiliating or inhuman treatment, and
physical or mental violence which could at times amount to torture…
documenting security investigations could help deal with complaints
of improper treatment or torture during security investigations and
could be an objective source as to what happens during
investigations, supporting or refuting suspects´ claims in these
matters." (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 07/04/12)
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