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Winning ACRI Petition Demands Police Transparency

ACRI petition spurs police disclosure of procedures regarding protests, including means of crowd dispersal, use of force, and more.

Out of 890 police procedures, approximately 200 are published to the public. Following ACRI’s petition, the police are required to publish the rest of their procedures by March 2021.

The Administrative Court in Jerusalem today (28/6/20) ruled that the police are obligated to publish all of their operating procedures. The ruling was made following the petition by the Association for Civil Rights claiming that the police force is violating its duty to publish its procedures in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, which was enacted 20 years ago. The police also accepted ACRI’s position that in cases where procedures must remain confidential in accordance with the legal exceptions provided, they are obligated to publish at least the title of the procedure and the reason that the entire procedure cannot be published.

The Israeli Police follow 890 operating procedures, with only 180 of those procedures published to date. Those unpublished procedures cover a wide array of issues, including the use of force and means of crowd dispersal regarding protests.

The police procedures, the petition states, regulate the limits of authority and operations of the police in relationship to private citizens in countless situations: interrogation, detention, examination of I.D., protests, civil unrest, exercise of force, and more. Thus, it is critical and necessary to provide the public with relevant and important information regarding their rights and the limits of police authority, and in order to allow the criticism of police misconduct.

In the ruling, Judge Dana Cohen-Lakach wrote “This petition is of great significance. It was intended to incentivize the police to prioritize the publication of its procedures, an issue that has been pending for over 20 years since the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act 1998(…) The hearing revealed failures in the publication process and also advanced the need to address this issue not only regarding nationally applicable procedures, but also at the local-provincial level.”

In response to the ruling, Adv. Avner Pinchuk and Adv. Anne Sucio said: “This is an important day for transparency. This ruling, especially during this time when police activity is receiving a great deal of attention and criticism, will allow the public to learn about and understand police procedures and commands and to use this knowledge to monitor police operations. We hope that more public bodies will make their work procedures transparent in this fashion.”

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