'Gag suspects' names until indictment'

Israel Press Council: Bill infringing on press freedom; Edri: Scandals will have many suspects.

edri 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
edri 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A new bill that would put a gag on publishing the names of suspects in any crime before an indictment is made has raised controversy in the Ministerial Legislation Committee, Israel Radio reported Monday. Immigrant Absorption Minister Ya'akov Edri, who holds a chair on the committee, said he would appeal the bill. Edri claimed that if the bill would be passed as a law, many suspects will be named in any scandal because the name of the real suspect would be prohibited from publication. The minister called on the Israel Press Council (IPC) and on the Knesset to find a formula that would combine the rights of suspects with the public right to be informed. The IPC is a voluntary body active in Israel since 1963, and like similar bodies worldwide is responsible for ensuring that the freedom of the press in Israel is not infringed upon. Edri emphasized that the bill cannot legally be submitted for a preliminary vote before his appeal is discussed in the Ministerial Legislation Committee. The IPC will convene for an urgent meeting following the bill's submission. Former Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner, who heads the council, said the bill posed a serious risk to the public's right to know. If legislated, she claimed, the public in Israel would be kept in the dark regarding investigations involving the prime minister, presidents and ministers. The public defense, on the other hand, welcomed the bill, saying it balanced a suspect's right to maintain his privacy and good name and the need to ensure the freedom of the press.