Israeli Prison Service Refuses to Translate its Procedures into Arabic
The Israeli Prison Service’s (IPS) procedures and directives regulate the boundaries of IPS authority, use of force by prison guards towards prisoners, punishment and disciplinary actions that apply to prisoners, and delineate the prisoners’ basic rights. Although most of the people imprisoned and in IPS custody are Arabic speakers, a significant portion of whom speak no Hebrew, IPS publicizes all of its critical information about conduct in the prison in Hebrew only. The result is that Arabic-speaking prisoners have no real access to information and to the rules that regulate their daily lives in prison.
ACRI requested from the temporary Police Commissioner that IPS fully translate all procedures and directives to Arabic. Reut Shaer of ACRI’s Legal Division explains: “not publicizing the procedures into the language understood by a majority of the imprisoned population both violates the right to equality and also prevents prisoners from knowing their rights, impacting their ability to make decisions in various scenarios and to obtain their rights. This also means that prisoners cannot protect their rights - due to a lack of translation, prisoners do not know when and to whom to turn in the case that their rights are infringed upon and procedure is violated.”
In response, IPS claims that it is not required by law to translate its procedures and directives, and therefore does not plan on translating them. IPS stakeholders claim, as per their interpretation, that the Nation-State Law relieves them from the requirement to translate their documents into Arabic, as the law does not explicitly regulate this. Additionally, they claimed that some of the information about the rights and responsibilities of prisoners are hung on bulletin boards in jails for the benefit of Arabic speaking prisoners.