MKs slam state attorney inspectorate proposal

Detractors say the plan would prevent the public from filing complaints about state lawyers.

Weinstein 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Weinstein 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Knesset State Control Committee on Monday criticized the attorney-general’s draft proposals for an independent inspectorate to monitor the State Attorney’s Office, saying the plan would prevent the public from filing complaints about state lawyers.
The criticism came after Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein presented a proposal to the committee on Monday morning recommending that the new inspectorate be established within the Justice Ministry.
Weinstein’s proposals are the fruits of a 10-member commission, headed by Orit Koren, the deputy attorney-general for legislation, and comprised of deputy attorneys-general and state attorneys. Several other experts, including former attorney-general Menahem Mazuz, senior police officials and Israel Democracy Institute vice president Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer, were also invited to present their positions on the matter.
In Monday’s committee hearing, chairman Ronnie Bar- On (Kadima) accused Weinstein’s commission of proposing to create a situation in which the public “had the right to know but not to touch” the State Attorney’s Office.
Bar-On also slammed the attorney-general for sending his draft proposals to the media late on Sunday night, but not giving them to him.
“An inspectorate that is not open to the public will not help,” Bar-On told Weinstein. “How can you buy the public’s confidence if you do not let the public in?”
The committee chairman warned that if the Attorney- General’s Office refused to allow the public to submit complaints about the State Attorney’s Office, MKs would end up passing laws on the matter that “everyone would regret.”
At the end of the meeting, Weinstein said the draft proposals “needed some polishing” and asked for another two months to develop a practical proposal on the matter, but Bar-On refused and insisted that the next meeting would be in a month.
Weinstein told the committee that the commission that developed the proposals held 14 meetings and even traveled to the UK to visit Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for the Crown Prosecution Service, the British independent body whose aim is to enhance the quality of justice by independent inspection and assessment of prosecution services.
As part of that visit, Weinstein said his team conducted a review of foreign law relating to inspection and investigation of complaints regarding law enforcement and prosecuting bodies. “We must not impair the [State Attorney’s Office’s] independence, which is a cornerstone of the democratic system,” Weinstein said. “I have full confidence in the SAO, and in the purity of its intentions and reasonings.”