Danino must explain closure of trafficking unit

By
September 6, 2011 03:02

High Court of Justice summoned police chief Insp.-Gen. to appear within 30 days, provide explanation for closure of Sa’ar Unit.

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New police chief Yochanan Danino

Yochanan Danino GOOD 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The High Court of Justice on Monday summoned police chief Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino and the police’s head of Operations and Investigations Branch, Cmdr. Yoav Seglovitch, to appear within 30 days and provide an explanation for the closure of the Sa’ar Unit, which was tasked with combating human trafficking.

The summons was made after a petition was filed to the court by Knesset Member Orit Zuaretz (Kadima), chairwoman of the Knesset Committee for Combatting Women Trafficking together with the Kav Laoved Worker’s Hotline and the Hotline for Migrant Workers.

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“I believe that the unusual decision by the court to invite the police commissioner and the head of police investigations branch to explain the closure of the unit will change the intolerable reality that was created,” Zuaretz said after Monday’s High Court hearing.

The High Court panel of three judges expressed its objection to the closure and cited negative social and international consequences that would follow.

“This is an issue of police priorities,” said Justice Dorit Beinisch. “The closure means lowering the priority for dealing with the issue...after years of work, the wheel cannot be turned back. After this level of achievement, is this the moment to change that?” she added.

In June, members of the committee expressed alarm over the closure of Sa’ar.

Police had announced the unit’s officers would be moved around to local police stations. The committee said the change would significantly harm Israel’s efforts against human trafficking.

Seglovitch said in June there was a disadvantage in keeping the unit in its current, concentrated form, as “this means we don’t deal with peripheral areas. We thought it would be important for us to have a grasp on the ground [in the periphery]. We are trying to increase enforcement in the North, and we are setting up fortified central units to further that aim.”

But Avital Rosenberg, who heads the Taskforce for Human Trafficking, warned if Israel’s position fell in the US State Department’s international ranking of countries that fight human trafficking, “this will have economic impacts. Today, Israel is perceived in the world as a leader in change. The orientation around the victims by the Sa’ar unit is new and not the norm in the world. They are coming from all over the world to study what we are doing, due to Sa’ar’s success.”


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