Knesset c’tees pass bills allowing wider criminal database

Proposed legislation by which police should keep records of migrants so they can be identified in criminal matters moves forward.

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June 17, 2011 04:02
2 minute read.
Eritrean migrants in Sinai waiting to be smuggled

Eritrean migrants in Sinai 311 (R). (photo credit: Asmaa Waguih / Reuters)

 
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Two bills allowing Israel police to build and expand use of identifying details in criminal investigations passed through Knesset committees this week.

The Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers recommended on Wednesday that the police should keep records of migrants so they can be identified in criminal matters.

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Committee chair MK Ya’acov Katz (National Union) – along with 11 other MKs – proposed an additional clause in the 1953 Law to Prevent Infiltration, which states: “if a person infiltrated Israel or is suspected of a crime, [the] police is authorized to gather his identifying details… and include them in a database.”

“Due to an inability to track [foreign workers] and a lack of identifying details, it is very difficult to enforce laws pertaining to felonies, such as rape and murder,” the bill reads. “The current situation does not allow the police to collect identifying details when a person breaks the Law of Entry to Israel, and according to high-ranking police officials, this makes it difficult to enforce the law and protect Israel’s citizens.”

“Today, Israel police does not have any details about those who criminally entered the state,” Katz explained at Wednesday’s committee meeting.

“An identifying database will help the police in their work to solve crimes involving illegal infiltrators.”

The explanatory section of the bill points out that every tourist in the US is fingerprinted upon entering the country.

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“If the US gets fingerprints from every tourist that enters the country legally, we should act in the same way towards those who cross our borders illegally,” Katz added. “This is the minimum, basic thing we can do as a nation that values life.”

United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) representative in Israel, William Tall, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the compiling of such information on new migrants or asylum-seekers in Israel is not anything new. “We are aware that all people are already fingerprinted as part of their induction process,” he said.

He added that some even go through eye-scanning, along with the electric fingerprinting done for all those processed in Israel, and that the UNHCR has also been told by the government that they will not “move against employees who are hiring asylum-seekers until there is a viable employment alternative for them.”

On Tuesday, the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee passed a bill for a second and third plenum vote, which would allow the police to keep a database of fingerprints and DNA in order to identify missing or unknown people who are injured in major incidents.

The law will also allow details from the police’s criminal database to be cross-checked with fingerprints collected from foreign workers and Palestinians.

Currently, fingerprints and DNA taken from those arrested in Judea and Samaria cannot be checked in the police’s criminal database.

A Shin Bet (Israel security agency) representative at the meeting said that, had the law been different, it would have helped the police catch those who murdered the Fogel family in Itamar earlier this year.

In addition, the police will be authorized to sign agreements with foreign-police forces to receive and give out information from the databases.

The committee approved the bill, despite opposition from MK Zahava Galon (Meretz), and representatives of human rights organizations that attended the meeting.

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