Israeli policemen walk near a police bus transporting right-wing Israeli protesters.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Monday appeared to lean against a police initiative to water down its reporting requirements for cases involving fights with police, according to the committee spokeswoman.
The issue was part of a broader debate in which the police sought greater control and independence over some prosecutions, with less need to look over their shoulder for approval from the state prosecution.
Police are currently obligated to report information about cases to the state prosecutor and to the Knesset. That acts to keeps the police on a legal leash – positively or negatively, depending on one’s perspective.
In contrast, the Public Defender’s Office and Dr. Guy Luria of the Israel Democracy Institute are fighting to keep supervision of police prosecutors in the hands of the state, or even to shift actual running of prosecutions to the state prosecution.
Though the state prosecution currently takes the lead on many crimes, the police, under general supervision from the state prosecution, have their own in-house prosecutors for some smaller cases, including those involving low-grade fights with police.
Luria and the public defender raised the problem of objectivity in such cases, where many defendants say police officers provoked or started the fights, or simply denied any wrongdoing.
They say state prosecutors are more likely to be objective than police prosecutors, who work under the same roofs with police officers accusing defendants of fighting with them.
They claim that the police want to return to the pre-2001 environment, when a state comptroller report lambasted police prosecutors for bias in favor of fellow policemen, and led to some of the current added oversight.
In the case against social justice movement leader Daphne Leef for fighting with police, the state prosecution was against indicting Leef, but the police went forward anyway with the case’s initial stages.
After only a few witnesses testified, the police withdrew the case in embarrassment. No final decision was made and the issue will continue to be debated, but the police did not appear on Monday to have convinced the committee to make their desired changes.