The High Court of Justice on Tuesday unanimously rejected a petition by two former MKs against a Prisons Service decision allowing prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassin, Yigal Amir, to artificially inseminate his wife.
"From the moment Amir was given a life sentence, his punishment was complete and final," wrote Justice Ayala Procaccia. "From this point on, like all prisoners, he had severe restrictions imposed on his freedom, and other restrictions on his human rights that were inherent to the loss of his freedom. Furthermore, he had additional restraints imposed on him related to discipline and order which are essential for prison life."
"He could also have, to the extent that it was found necessary, restrictions imposed on him based on state security requirements or other considerations of vital public interest. Beyond these, however, Amir is entitled, as is every prisoner, [to all the other] basic rights," wrote Procaccia.
Procaccia added that the right to a family was one of the most important ones guaranteed by the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom. Since this right was not directly affected by Amir's imprisonment and loss of freedom, his loss of other human rights inherent in the imprisonment itself, the requirements of prison discipline or the protection of national security, he was as much entitled to the right as any other citizen or resident of Israel.
Rabin's daughter, Dalia Rabin-Pelosoff, refused to comment on the court's decision. However, Yossi Lahmani, the director-general of the Rabin Center, charged that the court had failed to take into account the educational implications of its decision.
"The key question that the court should have asked itself, and which it totally ignored, was what would be the educational message emanating from the decision for future generations, and even our own," he said in a prepared statement. "The court should have understood, as the last bulwark of democracy, that this was not a technical-medical decision about inseminating a lady who, by all accounts, is eccentric and decided to become pregnant from the detestable killer, but a fundamental and special decision that distinguishes this 'shooter in the back of the nation' from other killers."
The court, however, did take into account that Amir had killed the prime minister, but said that this did not make him different from any other prisoner, or human being, once the necessary restrictions imposed on his freedom as a result of his crime had been taken into account.
Procaccia wrote that the right to a family was a human right which could only be denied if the denial complied with Paragraph 8 of the Basic Law: Human Freedom and Dignity. According to that paragraph, a right provided by the basic law could only be withheld on the basis of a law or specific authorization, only if the act is in accordance with the values of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, only for a worthy cause and only if the action taken is balanced.
Procaccia wrote that denying Amir the right to a family would not meet these conditions.
"Fundamental understandings of public morality and a desire for revenge among some members of the community towards one prisoner or another do not constitute relevant considerations or a worthy purpose for denying the prisoner his human right to be a parent," wrote Procaccia. "This is so as long as fulfilling this right does not cause significant damage to orderly prison routine or other relevant and serious injury to the public interest which would justify restricting the right to be a parent."
"Human rights are guaranteed even to the prisoner who has committed the most dastardly of crimes," she wrote. "No matter how strong the public repulsion towards that prisoner's actions, it cannot serve as a justification for restricting his rights."