Plan to Eradicate Crime in Arab Society - Points for Improvement
On January 4, 2022, we appealed to the Minister of Public Security and the Minister of Justice, along with the Coalition of Women Against Weapons (with which ACRI is affiliated along with Women Against Violence and the Al-Tufula Center), regarding the plan to address crime and violence in Arab society, which the government approved in October of 2021. While the overall plan is vital and desirable, ACRI attorneys Anne Suciu and Gadeer Nicola raise a number of issues that could lead to further even more grave violations of the basic rights of Arab citizens in the country, and botch the purpose of the program:
A. Harmful power paradigm: Some of the methods presented in the plan are replications of failed measures in the US, which are based on a power paradigm wherein the primary means of combating crime is through use of more aggressive means, more severe punishment and more widespread incarceration. This policy could lead to devastating long-term consequences for Arab society, which would even further entrench current pre-existing gaps.
B. Profiling and over-policing: Along with the under-policing that exists within Arab localities for certain offenses, Arab society often suffers from over-policing and profiling. Increased police presence and enforcement among Arab society within the framework of the plan, is expected to further expand Arab representation in all stages of criminal proceedings.
C. Increased Border Police force presence and riot control: Beyond addressing the phenomenon of crime and violence in Arab society, the government has seized the opportunity to address what it refers to as "riots" in Arab society, through the “back door,” likely following conclusions drawn after the incidents that took place in May. In this context, the intention to expand the presence of Border Police forces in Arab localities "to address severe crime and disturbances" is of particular prominence. Beyond the fact that these are completely different phenomena that require unique and distinct treatment, routine presence of Border Police – a hybrid body composed of soldier-police combatants – for legal enforcement against Arabs, retains a degrading dimension in deeming them dangerous, and may in turn lead to decreased trust in police and an escalation in tension.
D. Cameras in public spaces: The plan includes a significant expansion of the number of surveillance cameras on the streets of Arab localities and in shared cities. Networking localities with surveillance cameras and storing the information they document, violates the constitutional right to privacy and calls their effectiveness into question. At the very least, regulations must be established as a requisite for the proportionality of the violation of basic rights.
E. Department of Internal Police Investigations and tracking mechanisms: In the face of the plan’s expansion of law enforcement authorities and activities, accountability mechanisms for police forces and their actions must be strengthened.