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  • ACRI

We Succeeded! Police Will Reveal Concealed Sections of Crowd Control Procedures

Photo: Oren Ziv, Activestills

Today (October 2, 2022) the Jerusalem District Court accepted a petition submitted by ACRI and The Movement for Freedom of Information, ordering the police to publish their procedures regarding the use of skunk water cannons, clubs, and stun grenades, within 45 days – without omissions or deletions.

These procedures – which were previously fully transparent – were merely partially published by the police about two years ago (also following a petition submitted by ACRI), with the most significant information concerning the means through which such measures are applied, concealed. Including, for example, information regarding the permissible range for use of skunk water cannons, the locations toward which they may be directed, restrictions on the use of stun grenades, and the manner in which their use is permitted.

Today the court ruled that the information concealed is of great importance to both individuals and the public. Its concealment deprives the public of the right to objectively and professionally evaluate police activities and procedures. The court emphasized that the use of skunk water cannons, clubs, and stun grenades, pose a risk of severe physical harm and injuries to sensitive body parts. They further noted that these measures are often used to disperse authorized demonstrations that become riots due to individual demonstrators. But the circle of those harmed is much larger and includes everyone who joined to exercise their freedom of expression, the passers-by who happened upon the scene, and even those who live in the surrounding area.

The court rejected police claims according to which the disclosure of information on their means of applying forcible measures may impair their effectiveness, challenging police in quelling riots, such that public safety and security will also be compromised as a result. The court deemed the basis of these vague claims factually unsupported. The court also adopted the organizations’ claim that even if the disclosure of concealed information would challenge police efforts to disperse riots, it would be a relatively insignificant hindrance that doesn’t outweigh the essential need for the disclosure of information and public oversight. It was further determined that the fact that the procedures were previously published in full, places more responsibility on the police to justify their decision to conceal parts of them, and that they didn’t uphold this obligation.

ACRI Attorneys Anne Suciu and Rachely Edri-Hulata of the Movement for Freedom of Information welcomed the verdict and said: "The police have far-reaching powers, including the use of enormous force and far-reaching measures against civilians. In a democratic society there must be full transparency regarding what is permitted and prohibited upon police use of means of force, to ensure police oversight and supervision, and to exercise the basic rights to bodily integrity, life, freedom of expression, and protest."


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