Yesh Din: State failing to monitor investigations in W. Bank

Rights group says only 8% of probes since 2005 have led to indictments.

November 4, 2008 21:41
2 minute read.
Yesh Din: State failing to monitor investigations in W. Bank

masked topless settler soldiers 224 88. (photo credit: AP)


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Even though police reject the overwhelming majority of complaints by Palestinians against Jews, the state prosecution does not fulfill its obligation to oversee the police investigations or seriously investigate appeals against their decisions, the human rights organization Yesh Din charged in a new report released Monday. "The integration of data from both parts of the study shows, in the words of the 1994 report by the Shamgar Commission of Inquiry into the Massacre in the Machpela Cave that 'much ink has been spilled on the subject of law enforcement in the territories and there has been much verbiage, but in practice all that has been done was too slow, too little and too late,'" the report charged. "This statement, written in the mid-1990s, is just as true today with regard to the state prosecution's supervision of the investigation of crimes committed by Israeli citizens against Palestinians." According to the report, only eight percent of police investigations in cases monitored by Yesh Din since 2005 have led to indictments. In 91% of the cases, police have closed the file. The state prosecution is responsible for supervising police investigations in the West Bank. It has two mechanisms for doing so. One is a coordinating committee on law enforcement in the West Bank headed by Shai Nitzan, head of the Special Tasks Division of the State Attorney's Office. The other is a department in the state prosecution which is responsible for appeals against police decisions to close the file on complaints made by Palestinians. Both have failed in their duties, the report charged. According to Yesh Din, Nitzan has changed the function of his committee from one that examines specific cases to one that is responsible for overall policy on matters related to law enforcement in the territories. The report quotes Nitzan as saying, "the task of the team does not include routine supervision of specific cases handled by the district attorney's offices or the investigation and prosecution units in the Judea and Samaria District police force." Yesh Din provided an example of an allegedly mishandled investigation and charged that Nitzan should have supervised the case and corrected the police mistakes. Regarding the appeals department, Yesh Din reported that the department rejected 30 of 31 appeals that the organization lodged. "The department tends to adopt en masse the positions of the police and the district attorney's office when they consider a file," the organization charged, adding that the investigators often blindly accepted the version of the suspect. In response to the allegations in the report, the Justice Ministry said that the team headed by Nitzan was "well aware" of its responsibilities. "The team monitors specific cases when that is justified but its task is not to routinely monitor all of the investigation files," it said. It added that the rate of rejection of appeals against police decisions to close investigations in the West Bank is the same as in Israel. "This is an indication of the professionalism of the examination conducted by those who decided to close the case in the first place and there is no difference in this matter between the rate of rejection of appeals against decision by the Judea and Samaria district police and rate of rejection of appeals against decisions made by other police districts."

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