Yesh DinVolunteers for Human Rights
NGOs petition the HCJ: Allow complainants to review investigation files which were closed without indictments
A Palestinian waits to file a complaint in the Judea and Samaria police station. Photo: Yesh Din
Directive number 14.8 was made public nine years ago, in August 2002. Upon its publication, the directive stated that complainants' right to review investigation files should be respected if the purpose for such review is to consider a potential appeal, as "this information is necessary for a citizen to allow him or her to exercise his or her right". In effect, after the directive was made public, none of the petitioning NGOs were ever refused to review closed investigation files, on behalf of their clients.
However, in November 2010, it was brought to the petitioners' attention that a new version of directive 14.8 was published, replacing the previous directive. The new directive states that "for the purpose of appealing a decision to close an investigation file due to lack of sufficient evidence – as a rule, the complainant will not be given information from the file. An investigation file closed on the grounds of insufficient evidence is a borderline case, as far as evidence is concerned. If the appeal is accepted, the fact that the complainant received information from the investigation file will only weaken his or her testimony, and diminish the chance of a conviction" [sic].
Human rights group Yesh Din – along with its partners in this procedure, Noga Center and the Association of Rape Crisis Centers – asked the State Prosecution to review the directive and revise it. The NGOs said that the new directive is not reasonable nor is it proportional, and added that it does not meet the necessary criteria. When no answer was received from the State Prosecution, and the NGOs' requests to review closed investigation files were refused, a petition was drafted and a copy of it was sent to the State Prosecutor.
In May 2011, the NGOs received a letter from the assistant State Prosecutor, saying that it has been decided to update the directive. However, no details were offered on the planned update, and the directive is still in effect until this very day. Seeing that complainants are still not allowed to review closed investigation files, the three NGOs decided to file the petition nonetheless – and ask the HCJ for a temporary injunction that would allow the petitioners access to investigation files until the court's final decision on the issue. The petition was filed July 7th, 2011.
"Legislators gave the public the right to review and criticize the actions of the law enforcement authorities – by the right of appeal. Directive 14.8, in its present wording, harms the transparency of the investigations, prevents public scrutiny of police work and diminishes the chance to correct wrongs", says attorney Carmel Pommeranz, who filed the petition with attorney Michael Sfard.
The petition (Hebrew)