Meretz MK Horowitz proposes 'Prisoner X Bill'

Bill calls for Public Defender's Office to monitor prisoners whose cases are under a gag order.

July 15, 2013 13:45
1 minute read.
ABC mock up of Ben Zygier passport.

Ben Zygier passport 370. (photo credit: ABC News)

A new bill would monitor and protect the rights of prisoners whose cases are under a gag order.

MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) submitted legislation Monday, following the publicizing of the death of Ben Zygier, known as "Prisoner X," earlier this year and last week's revelation that there was another prisoner in a similar situation. Both prisoners were held in solitary confinement under a gag order, and the details of their cases are unknown to the public.

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"We need to make sure cases like Ben Zygier's are not repeated," Horowitz said. "Continued imprisonment in solitary confinement can lead to severe mental deterioration that can lead to suicide."

According to Horowitz's bill, the Public Defender's Office will receive regular updates on the prisoner's situation in order to protect his rights.

The Public Defender's Office will be able to petition a court and demand involvement if they detect a danger to the prisoner's physical or mental health.

"The Public Defender's office is a government agency, but works separately from the prosecution; therefore, it can be used as a mechanism to ensure balance and monitor [the prisoners]," the Meretz MK explained.

In 2010, when Zygier was held in solitary confinement, Horowitz wrote a letter to the Attorney-General's Office and was reassured that Zygier was under supervision. This year, foreign sources revealed that Zygier killed himself shortly after Horowitz sent the letter.

Last week, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni reassured the public that there are no unknown prisoners in Israel.

“The State of Israel has supervision and a judicial process,” Aharonovitch told the Knesset. "We are careful to keep the law and the process, along with concern for our security. That concern sometimes requires us to act with great secrecy.”

Livni said "it is important for Israeli citizens to know that there are no invisible prisoners sent to jail without a trial, without legal defense and without their families knowing."

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