Peres, while swearing in judges, decries crime escalation

President points to organized crime and murder, increased break-ins, growing incidents of violence against women, juvenile delinquency.

Peres turkey 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Peres turkey 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
President Shimon Peres deplored the escalation of crime and violence - specifically organized crime and murder - when he spoke at the swearing-in ceremony of 14 new judges at Beit Hanassi on Thursday. Peres was also critical of the increase in break-ins, the unbridled repossessions of land and property, the growing incidents of violence against women, juvenile delinquency in worrisome proportions, driving offenses and carnage on the roads. The president said there was a feeling that not enough was being done by law enforcement officials to prevent such crimes. He stated that he knew that the courts were not the sole address for his complaints. The educational network, the social services, the legislature, social policy in general and the police also have important roles in the struggle against the existing situation, he said. Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann concurred with Peres about the need to put more effort into the fight against organized crime, and emphasized the importance of closing the gap in penalties for crimes. Too often there is a wide gap between the sentence meted out by one judge for a crime and that meted out by another for an almost identical crime, he said. He understood that there might be differences depending on whether or not the crime was premeditated, but when such differences did not exist, he said, punishment must be meted out equally. Peres also referred to collective responsibility in the process of selecting and swearing in judges. "There is great responsibility on the part of both the appointers and the appointees, as well as on the president who signs the appointment documents," said Peres, noting that "there is no authority without responsibility. Whoever has the authority to appoint judges must be certain that the best possible people have been chosen to serve, and whoever is appointed must be a person of the highest integrity." Quoting from the Bible, which he said put great weight on the judges of Israel, Peres recited the verse from the Book of Deuteronomy: "Justice, justice shalt thou pursue so that thou might live and inherit the land." Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch welcomed the new appointments, expressing hope they would relieve the backlog in the courts to some extent. An insufficient number of judges had caused the processing of many cases to be needlessly prolonged. Beinisch particularly welcomed the appointment of Yoram Danziger to the Supreme Court, noting that he was the second judge to come directly from the ranks of attorneys, rather than from the bench of a lower court. Aside from his experience as a practicing lawyer, she said, Danziger also has a remarkable knowledge of the law, and has taught law at various academic institutions. She also praised him for his dedication to human rights. Speaking on behalf of his fellow judges - who included the daughter of State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, Ilona Lindestrauss-Arieli - Danziger stressed the significance of the independence of the judicial body and the individual judge, which he said would inspire public confidence. Commenting on the fact that more than half of the new judges were lawyers who had not previously served as judges or registrars, Danziger said that he regarded them as emissaries of the Bar Association. Among the lawyers was American-born Ya'acov Perski, whose name immediately attracted the president's attention, as that was his name before he changed it to Peres. However, a few inquiries proved that there was no relationship. Of the 14 new judges, all except two were born in Israel. Beinisch made the point that contrary to reports, all had been selected on merit and not because they came from any particular sector of society, or because of their religion or gender. The appointees included seven women and three members of minority communities.