(photo credit: Courtesy (illustrative).)
Courts ignore family violence legislation and fail to routinely notify the
police of restraining orders against violent men, a prominent women’s rights
attorney told members of the Knesset State Control Committee on
Na’amat legal counsel Meira Bassok, speaking at a meeting that
coincided with International Women’s Day, warned that as a result, the police
are not informed that the subject of the complaint must leave the house, or that
they are supposed to take away any firearms in his possession. In such cases,
she said, police are only made aware of the restraining orders if the woman
complains that the man violated the order.
But Mimi Amsili, the Justice
Ministry’s director for civil and family courts, said the court system had
already “made changes in the practice, and today, the court secretaries are
required to transfer the restraining orders to the relevant police
The courts send police the orders by fax, Amsili added, and
then call to make sure that the fax reached the station.
in turn, were countered by police Lt.- Cmdr. Varda Shaham, who rebutted that
“there is no such thing as a “fax to the police,” and you can’t just flood
stations with faxes.”
She complained that “there are courts that send us
the restraining orders, and there are those that don’t send
Sometimes the fax reaches the wrong department.”
suggested, the courts should send the orders as computer files so police can
Ya’acov Amit, the Interior Ministry’s director of firearms
licensing, added that for years now, his office had requested that the courts
send decisions to confiscate firearms via computer, but that the courts
continued to send faxes.
“The court does not always directly request that
we deny weapons permits for men who have restraining orders issued against them,
in contradiction to what is required by law – but we take the initiative and do
it instead,” said Amit.
The ensuing investigations, Shaham told MKs, are
often complex, and police detectives face difficult questions, including whether
and how to question minors who may have witnessed violence.
approximately 3,700 restraining orders issued in 2010, police investigated 750
instances of violent men who violated the orders. In approximately 50 percent of
the cases, she said, indictments were eventually filed.
“In recent weeks,
we have been exposed to instances of violence and to the negligence of the
authorities despite warnings,” said committee chairman Yoel Hasson (Kadima). “In
at least one of the murders, the murderer was a violent husband who violated a
Family violence is not something that begins
Hasson added that “without appropriate enforcement, the order
has no value. We legislate laws and hope to change a problematic situation, but
afterward, in the field test, they dissolve. I demand that in the next two
weeks, police representatives meet with Courts Administration head Moshe Gal to
create a standard practice for reporting.”
During the hearing, State
Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss called to increase penalties for those convicted
of family violence, explaining that he was basing his call on his own
experiences as a judge.