Stop Lodging Detainees at Police Stations in Disgraceful Conditions
In May 2023, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel submitted a freedom of information request to the police, in which we asked to disclose the number of detainees held in police stations every night. The response from the police (Hebrew) revealed that since May 2023, dozens of detainees have been held in police stations under conditions contrary to the law and with significant disregard for their rights.
In July 2023, the distressing phenomenon escalated further. In light of this, and given the blatant violation of the law and the state's commitment to the Supreme Court, on July 25, 2023, we addressed (Hebrew) the Attorney General, demanding an immediate halt to the detention of prisoners under conditions that violate the law. As the phenomenon persisted and even expanded, on August 20, 2023, we reached out to the Consultation and Investigation Department at the Ministry of Justice and the State Prosecutor.
Police Response to Freedom of Information Request, May 29, 2023 (Hebrew) Association for Civil Rights' Appeal to the Attorney General, July 25, 2023 (Hebrew) Association for Civil Rights' Communication to the Consultation and Investigation Department at the Ministry of Justice and the State Prosecutor, August 20, 2023 (Hebrew)
Background - Our Petition to the Supreme Court
On September 8, 2022, the Association for Civil Rights appealed to the Supreme Court, demanding the cessation of the systematic violation of the rights of detainees who had been held frequently in police stations across the country in the months preceding. The detainees were forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded cells, without continuous access to restroom facilities, showers, or proper medical care.
In the petition, ACRI argued that holding detainees in detention cells in police stations – which are equipped with nothing more than concrete or metal benches – for prolonged periods, and particularly the detention conditions they were subjected to, were illegal. Detaining individuals in police stations violates the minimum conditions prescribed by law: detainees are denied daily showers and the necessary conditions for maintaining their hygiene; they do not receive proper medical care; they are not provided with hot meals; they do not have access to open-air walks. These conditions constitute cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, severely infringing upon the most fundamental rights of pre-trial detainees – dignity, health, privacy, and a fair trial process.
In the State's response to the appeal on November 15, 2022, it was clarified that "there is no legal dispute between the appellant and the respondents regarding the duty to hold detainees in a manner that enables the full exercise of their rights according to the law." The State committed to working towards mitigating the phenomenon, updating the matter of opening wings in detention facilities to accommodate detainees. It was also stated that some detention cells in police stations are "designated cells" which, according to the State, meet the conditions allowing for detention according to the law. The State recognized that these designated cells do not fully address detainees' needs, such as access to medical care.
However, in light of the State's report of its almost complete success in addressing the phenomenon and its commitment to further mitigation, the appeal was withdrawn by mutual agreement.
Supreme Court 6019/22 - Association for Civil Rights in Israel v. Minister of Internal Security Attorney: Ann Soutchiov
Public Defender's Emergency Report on the Crisis of Detainee Holding Conditions in Police Stations, October 2022 (Hebrew) Association for Civil Rights' Communication to the Attorney General and Minister of Internal Security, August 10, 2022 (prior to filing the appeal) (Hebrew) Liran Tamri, After the Publication on Mynet: Demand to Improve Detention Conditions in Jerusalem Police Stations, August 11, 2022, mynet (Hebrew) Liran Tamri, Without a Bed and Without Facilities: Harsh Critique of Detention Conditions in Jerusalem, August 9, 2022, mynet (Hebrew)
The appeal was written with the assistance of the specialist Hila Sharon and the Field and Freedom of Expression Coordinator, Sivan Tahel.