MK Tamano-Shata: Establish independent committee to investigate killing

Tamano-Shata said she did not believe legislation is necessary since existing laws already prohibit the use of excessive force.

July 3, 2019 05:16
2 minute read.
Ethiopian immigrant

An immigrant from Ethiopia holds an Israeli flag as she carries her child upon her arrival at Ben-Gurion International Airport in January 2011.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

MKs Pnina Tamano-Shata and Gadi Yevarkan of the Blue and White Party have both called for the establishment of a new, independent unit for investigating police officers outside of the current Department for the Investigation of Police (DIP).

Their demand comes following the killing of Solomon Tekah of the Ethiopian-Israeli community on Sunday by an off-duty police officer, as well as other high-profile incidents of the use of excessive force by police against members of the community.

“The DIP cannot be the unit to investigate cases involving the [Ethiopian-Israeli] community,” Tamano-Shata told The Jerusalem Post. “They have proved to be a failure. They are the ones who went down this slippery slope and brought us to this abyss. A body that we have no faith in cannot be involved in these cases. The prime minister must start an investigative committee external to the DIP headed by a judge and including senior public figures that will investigate the Tekah case and other future incidents.”

The DIP works under the authority of the State Attorney’s Office, but has been accused by members of the Ethiopian-Israeli community of serial failings in its investigations of police officers who exercised excessive force against Ethiopian-Israelis.

Tamano-Shata said she did not believe legislation is necessary since existing laws already prohibit the use of excessive force.

“The laws exist, they need to be enforced,” she said. “The way to stop this is to deter police officers by bringing them to account.”

Yevarkan also called for an independent committee outside of the DIP and the State Attorney’s Office, accusing the DIP of “covering up” previous incidents of excessive force.

“I will act with all my force to bring legislation to enact this through the Knesset and to obtain support from all Knesset factions,” he told the Post. “We need deterrence. A policeman who does his work well should get commendations and a policeman who does not behave appropriately needs to be expelled from the police or put in prison if necessary.”

More broadly, MK Moshe Arbel of Shas said he intended to bring legislation to give the Government Unit for the Coordination the Struggle Against Racism the power to initiate investigations into racism. Arbel noted that the unit is part of the Justice Ministry but has no teeth and can only receive complaints of racism but not act on them.

The MK said the unit is staffed by professionals from the State Attorney’s Office who should have the power to initiate criminal investigations into racist incidents in general, as a way of heightening the fight against racism in Israeli society.

Arbel added that he believed an external unit should track the DIP’s investigation of Tekah’s killing to bolster the trust of the Ethiopian-Israeli community in its findings.

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