The Constitution, Law and Justice Committee passed, in its second and third reading, an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Law. The amendment will lengthen the validity of the law, by which the police and Shin Bet are exempt from providing visual or audio documentation of investigations of suspects in security crimes, by three years.
According to the existing law, visual documentation is mandatory for an investigation of someone suspected of a crime, the punishment of which is over ten years imprisonment. The law gives an exemption of validity in the case of investigations of suspects in security violations. The validity is set for five years and can be lengthened by another four. The validity expires on midnight of the date on which it is set.
The bill`s explanation states: ”In the special circumstances of a security investigation, in which the struggle is against extremist terrorist organizations and organizers, documentation as stated is liable to decisively damage the ability and quality of investigations of security violators, as well as their ability to counter terrorist threats.”
In the discussion, Shin Bet representatives claimed that according to their professional opinion, the exemption must be permanently fixed by law. However, due to opposition by Knesset Members Michael Eitan and Dan Meridor, the government requested to extend the validity of the law by two years, until the new terror bill is passed. Committee Chairman, MK David Rotem, in consultation with MK Yitzhak Hertzog who participated in the discussion, supported the bill, and decided to extend the validity of the law by three years.
The head of the Shin Bet investigative branch, who was present in the discussion, explained that ”Shin Bet investigations are monitored and documented from their inception to their completion. It is not about hiding a human rights violation, but about defending investigative methods. An exemption is needed because our enemies learn our investigative methods.”
The representative of the Association for Civilian Rights, Lila Margalit, and representative of the Public Defender, Rachel Danieli opposed the extension, claiming there is inarguably great importance in documenting investigations. According to them, the request for exemption in every case of security violation is sweeping and unbalanced. Certainly, they said, more measured tools exist to prevent an attack on the quality and methods of investigations.
As was stated, the bill was passed its second and third readings. In order for the law to take effect by midnight, the bill will most likely face a vote today in the Knesset Plenum.