‘Mask bill’ would make it easier for police to stifle protests

The bill says that if someone wears a mask so that he or she is unidentifiable, it is reasonable to suspect that they seek to disturb the peace.

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November 14, 2014 02:04
1 minute read.
Palestinian protester

A masked Palestinian protester stands near burning tires during clashes with police in Isawiya.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Proposed legislation could allow masked demonstrators police suspect to be violent to be more easily prosecuted.

The proposal by Bayit Yehudi MKs Yoni Chetboun and Ayelet Shaked and Likud MKs Ze’ev Elkin and Yariv Levin is a response to recent riots by Arab protesters, in which police had a difficult time arresting those who wore masks.

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According to current law, police can arrest those taking part in an illegal gathering that they suspect could disturb the peace, but the burden of proof is on arresting officers to provide evidence to prosecute those who are planning violent riots.

Chetboun called this situation a “revolving door, in which suspects are arrested and then freed after 48 hours without being put on trial, which makes the arrest ineffective. Police officers say their hands are tied in dealing with such gatherings.”

If the MKs’ initiative becomes law, the burden of proof would be on the suspects in cases in which the demonstrators’ faces were covered. They posit in the bill’s explanatory section that if someone wears a mask so that he or she is unidentifiable, it is reasonable to suspect that they seek to disturb the peace. Such a change would make arrests an effective deterrent, they wrote.

“The fight against terrorism begins with giving effective tools to the security forces and not tying their hands. The revolving door policy…is oil in the wheels of the terrorist machine. This is a legal farce that must be stopped,” Chetboun said.

According to Chetboun, “terrorism is rampant and the security forces’ hands are tied. This bill will make an important change that will allow them to take a stand against the upsurge in terrorism.”

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