Human Rights in the Knesset, June 2020
ACRI’s positions on issues pertaining to human rights on the Knesset’s agenda.
Municipal inspectors’ authority; prisoner incarceration and administrative release standard; the “Corona Law”; police handling of protests; Israel Security Agency surveillance in combating the coronavirus; Medical Institute for Road Safety (MARVAD) procedures and fees; tax exemption on donations to nonprofit organizations.
Municipal Inspectors’ Authority
Local Council Municipal Enforcement and Supervision Optimization Bill (Temporary Order) (Amendment 5), 5780-2020
Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, 10.6.2020
For several years now, municipal inspectors have been granted special powers to prevent acts of violence, including the authority to require a person to identify themselves and the authority to conduct body searches. These powers were granted to inspectors within the framework of a temporary pilot, due to fear of police privatization and violation of equality and human rights, yet the project has been extended time and again, despite various reservations and criticism leveled against it, and without the legally required supervision and examination.
ACRI calls on the committee to refrain from extending the pilot yet again, and to cease automatic approval of the project each year without fulfilling its designated role – conducting a significant in-depth inspection of the project. Alternatively, ACRI calls on the committee to solely extend the project by six months (and not by one year and a half, as requested), during which the committee will conduct a series of discussions to examine the project and its inherent failures. To read more (Hebrew)
Prisoner Incarceration and Administrative Release Standard
Proposed Prisons Order (Administrative Release) (Incarceration Standard Declaration), 5780-2020
Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, 15.6.2020
The proposal seeks to maintain the incarceration standard as is (14,000) for another six months.
The proposal is inappropriate, as the existing standard does not allow for administrative releases (a mechanism that eases overcrowding in prisons) since February of 2020. One month ago, the final date for implementing the High Court of Justice ruling regarding overcrowding in prisons expired without the state’s compliance, while it claims that it is far from meeting the standard set in the ruling (solely 40% of prisons meet the standards set by the High Court – a minimum of 4.5 square meters per prisoner).
ACRI calls upon the committee not to approve the proposed standard, which reflects a disregard for prisoners’ basic rights and the Supreme Court ruling. As such, we call upon the committee to demand the reduction of the standard that will ensure the renewal of administrative releases, at least until the minimal living space may be ensured for each prisoner in accordance with the High Court of Justice ruling. To read more (Hebrew)
The “Corona Law”
Special Powers to Deal with the Novel Coronavirus Bill (Temporary Order), 5780-2020
Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, 23.6.2020
A bill to authorize the government to enact secondary legislation to contend with the coronavirus crisis does not resolve the issue of using emergency regulations. The proposed arrangement also violates the principle of separation of powers, in that it permits the government to enact preliminary arrangements and violate human rights. Accordingly, the gravity of decision making must be transferred to the legislative authority. Furthermore, a parallel obligation must be enforced, regarding all matters pertaining to the authority to impose restrictions and decrees, for the creation of a socioeconomic safety net to ensure that no one is left to their own devices during this difficult period. To read more
Police Handling of Protests
Israel Police Procedures During Demonstrations
Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, 29.6.2020
ACRI promotes freedom of expression and the right to protest, and in recent years has run a project to assist and support demonstrators. Our connection to the field enables us to identify problematic widespread phenomena regarding how police contend with protests. Prior to the hearing, we appealed to the committee to note a number of such phenomena: unnecessary arrests, restraint and violation of rights during detainment and interrogation, and unreasonable unfounded conditions for release from detainment. To read more
Israel Security Agency Surveillance in Combating the Coronavirus
Bill to Authorize Israel Security Agency Assistance in the National Effort to Reduce the Spread of the Novel Coronavirus (Temporary Order), 5780-2020
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, 29.6.2020
ACRI calls on committee members not to approve the bill. The Israel Security Agency is a secret security organization that has been granted powers to invade privacy and collect data, solely for security purposes. Use of secret security services to monitor innocent civilians in a civilian context on an ongoing basis, is fundamentally unacceptable in a democratic state. There are alternative measures that are sufficiently effective and more proportionate with respect to the infringement of rights. To read more
Medical Institute for Road Safety (MARVAD) Procedures and Fees
Committee for Public Inquiries, 29.6.2020
This is a follow-up discussion on the rights of drivers referred to the Medical Institute for Road Safety (MARVAD).
Following the committee’s two previous discussions and our prior appeal on the topic, we sought to reemphasize two significant points that must be amended as soon as possible regarding MARVAD’s conduct, to avoid any further grave harm to drivers due to health conditions for which doctors report them to the institute: imposition of costly fees to whomever is referred to MARVAD by a doctor, and MARVAD’s failure to offer rationale for its decisions. To read more (Hebrew)
Tax Exemption on Donations to Nonprofit Organizations
Finance Committee Procedure for the Approval of Public Institutions under Section 46 of the Income Tax Ordinance
Finance Committee, 30.6.2020
Section 46A of the Income Tax Ordinance stipulates that anyone who donates to public institutions (nonprofits, organizations, etc.) is entitled to recognition of a donation for tax purposes. The discussion in the committee concerned the determination of a procedure for the Finance Committee to approve public institutions that will be entitled to receive the tax benefit.
ACRI proposed a series of criteria to the committee for approving the tax benefit, which are objective and reflect as broad a consensus as possible, as they are not of an ideological nature subject to political and inequitable interpretations. The appeal to the committee also explains why the Knesset must legislatively approve the criteria and transfer legislative authority to the Tax Authority, such that the procedure will be conducted free of political involvement, ensuring equality, freedom of expression, and ideological pluralism. To read more (Hebrew)
The Legal Aid Law, 5732-1972, enshrines the right to state-subsidized legal aid regarding certain matters, for those unable to bear the costs of legal representation. Among other things, legal assistance is provided for lawsuits concerning family unification and the regulation of the status of spouses and children of Israeli citizens under the Nationality Law, 5712-1952. However, for years the Legal Aid Department has refused to offer legal consultation and representation for such proceedings, when the spouse or children who require the status are Palestinian residents of the Occupied Territories. According to the Legal Aid Department, matters relating to this group are regulated by the provisions of another law, namely the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) 5763-2003, which does not appear in the regulations that address eligibility for legal aid.
On 16.6.2020, we appealed to the Minister of Justice and the acting head of Legal Aid, demanding that these discriminatory and illegal circumstances be rectified. In the appeal, Attorney Gadeer Nicola, Director of ACRI’s Arab Minority Rights Unit, noted that the current situation leaves a significant group, the vast majority of whom are Arab citizens and their Palestinian spouses, to contend with state authorities in defending their constitutional rights to equality and family life alone, without any assistance from the Legal Aid Department. Furthermore, the appeal posits that the Legal Aid Department’s position is mistaken, and contradicts the purpose of the Legal Aid Law.