Improper Use of Undercover Police Officers in Protests
Today (18.10.2020) we appealed to the Attorney General requesting him to instruct the Police to cease using undercover officers in protests - an increasingly common phenomenon in recent months. From testimonies and video clips documenting the protests against the Prime Minister in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv, it appears that undercover officers are regularly working to suppress and disperse protests. They immerse themselves inside the protests, document protestors with their cell phones, and focus specifically on those who are considered to be protest leaders.
From the documentation, it also appears that undercover officers are not occupied with serious offenses of violence or incitement - which have not transpired by protestors in the ongoing protests against the Prime Minister - but rather in suspicions for minor offenses of illegal gathering. The activity of undercover officers is primarily directed at the protestors themselves, and not, as one might expect, others who may cause harm to the protestors. Often, the undercover officers are working side-by-side with uniformed officers, and despite that, they are still the ones who conduct typical enforcement activity of detention and arrests. Under these circumstances, the use of authority by undercover officers is clearly unnecessary.
In the appeal, ACRI Attorneys Anne Suciu and Tal Hassin argued that the use of undercover officers disguised as protestors, conducting arrests, and documenting the activity of protestors is a severe violation of the protestors’ freedom of expression and deters the entire public from fulfilling their right to protest. Further, this practice clearly exceeds the general principles applicable to police officers and the duty of each officer to act transparently, identifiable by both uniform and nametag. Even if there are very extraordinary cases that justify the use of undercover officers in protests, it is clear that this method, typically used to deal with severe offenses, is not proper for dealing with non-violent protests, and it cannot become a routine tool considering the gross violation of individual rights.