Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Israeli Court: Don't reveal number of Shin Bet detainees who did not see lawyer

High Court justices deny petition requesting Shin Bet statistics about extent of regulation, agree with State saying: Might give an opening to harm State
Aviad Glickman

The Israeli High Court of Justice denied on Tuesday a petition filed against the Shin Bet and the Prime Minister's Office requesting information regarding the extent to which a regulation preventing Palestinian detainees from consulting with an attorney is being applied. The High Court justices agreed with the State's stance that revealing such information has the potential to harm State security.

The petition was filed by the Movement for Freedom of Information and the human rights group Yesh Din requesting to reveal Shin Bet statistics regarding the use of the regulation during 2004-2008. According to the petitioners, even though the Shin Bet is not included in the Freedom of Information law, "there hasn't been any attempt to expose some of the data in such a way that will balance between the State's security and the freedom of information."
High Court Justice Neal Hendel ruled that "the detailed explanations provided by the authorities have convinced me that accepting the petition, completely or partially, might give an opening that will eventually and unintentionally assist hostile factors who wish to harm the State in some way."
Hendel added: "I was convinced this fear isn't theoretical, but real and proven." However, he did go on to criticize the Shin Bet, saying: "It's not right that the issue of preventing attorney-detainee visits isn't supervised."   
In the ruling, Hendel emphasized that "there is no basis to determine if the petitioners' intent was to harm State security" or to provoke a public discussion, as they claimed.
Just last month the Knesset approved a bill in its second and third readings allowing the Shin Bet to extend the remands of those suspected of security violations without having the detainee or his attorney present. This bill will be implemented in cases where lives are at stake.

In addition, the bill states that during hearings deciding whether or not to extend the remand, the detainee will not be present and the hearing will be held in front of at High Court justice. It was also decided that the general time of extended remands will not surpass 144 hours. 

Source: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4008800,00.html

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