Justice Ministry to propose bill that limits media

Initiative nicknamed the 'concealment bill' aims to restrict the ability of the press to cover police investigations and court cases.

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman 311 (photo credit: Courtesy of Knesset)
Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman 311
(photo credit: Courtesy of Knesset)
The Justice Ministry plans to propose a bill that will severely limit the media’s ability to cover police investigations and court cases, The Jerusalem Post learned on Thursday.
The initiative will amend the penal code to include a punishment of one year in prison for anyone who publicizes materials and testimonies pertaining to criminal investigations. The proposed ban on publishing these materials will not have a time limit, and would apply to all cases, including those about public figures.
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The initiative, which the Hebrew-language press has nicknamed the “Concealment Bill,” has yet to be submitted to the Knesset, but the Justice Ministry confirmed that it has been approved by both State Attorney Moshe Lador and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman.
An official ministry statement explained that Lador has said more than once over the past year that he plans to fight leaks about investigations – therefore, the Justice Ministry, along with the State Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, Ministry of Public Security and the Israel Police worked on legislation on this issue.
The bill will ban publicizing materials from an investigation without permission from a judge and forbid government workers to release such materials. In addition, those involved in the case – suspects and lawyers alike – may not give materials from investigations to the press, and photographs and video of “law enforcement actions” relevant to the case may not be printed.
The Justice Ministry emphasized that the ban is on materials from an investigation and not content, meaning that, theoretically, oral leaks would not carry a prison sentence.
However, as the bill has not been finalized and there are differences of opinion on the matter, the ban may be expanded to include all information from investigations.