The Court of Appeals is a tribunal in the Ministry of Justice, which serves as the first systematic review on most issues of immigration and legal status. The Minister of Justice appoints judges in the Court of Appeals for a five year period, and may extend their term for an additional five years.
The political appointments of judges made by Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked in 2019 were a part of election propaganda, along with her refusal and that of her replacement Amir Ohana to extend the term of a judge because his verdicts differed from their personal political views. This revealed serious problems in the procedure for appointing judges to the Court of Appeals.
On 7.5.2020, along with partner organizations, ACRI petitioned the High Court of Justice demanding both the cancellation of the two judge appointments made by Minister Shaked, and the revocation of the authority given to the Minister of Justice under the Entry into Israel Law to appoint judges and extend their term.
The petition stated that the political involvement of the Minister of Justice in the appointment of judges means that the Court of Appeals is not afforded the independence crucial to the Justice System, thereby deeming it unable to defend the standards of the legal procedure. This is especially crucial considering this court deals with human rights and makes decisions on issues of immigrants, asylum seekers, family members of citizens and residents, the status of East Jerusalem residents, and that these topics are loaded, sensitive, and constantly handled by the political system.
The petition was filed in the name of ACRI, Worker’s Hotline, Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), Physicians for Human Rights, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, ASSAF - Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), and Hotline for Refugees and Migrants.
On 19.4.2021 the ruling in the petition was given. We decided to forgo the first remedy requested in our petition - canceling the appointment of two judges - following a recommendation from the Court, since two years had passed since their appointment. Regarding the second remedy- amending the law regarding the process of appointing judges - the State notified that it would act to amend the law, and the ruling stated that if within eight months there is no concrete change in legislation, we may petition again.
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