Public Safety: Crime victims' rights not maintained

The annual State Comptroller's Report revealed that despite the fact that Israel signed on to a 1985 UN resolution defending crime victims' rights, and despite passing a law supporting that resolution in 2001, Israel still has not taken the necessary steps to defend victims of crime. Israel was a signatory on the UN resolution on the "Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Authority," which granted international recognition to the status and rights of victims of crime in relation to the criminal proceedings against their attacker, as well as with regard to their rights to assistance and compensation from the state. A law was enacted in Israel in 2001 defending the rights of any person who was "directly harmed by a crime or the family of a person whose death was caused by a crime." The law asserts that victims have the right to receive information from the police, to receive updates on the management of the criminal proceedings in the case and the right to defense against bodily harm by attackers or any of their associates. Although that law has been on the books for six years, the report delivered Wednesday emphasized that the necessary steps had yet to be taken to implement the law. State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss called on all parties involved to "be diligent and fulfill the law's instructions urgently and without delay. Only in that way will Israeli society be able to fulfill its legal, constitutional and moral authority placed upon its shoulders to help crime victims as much as possible and to ease their suffering." The crime victims' rights law and its amendments gave deadlines for the construction of support systems needed to provide victims with information while protecting the accused's right to privacy. But despite generous timetables, the support system is still not functioning nationwide. The report found that the database from which crime victims were meant to draw their information had an insufficient budget and was missing several key elements. The State Comptroller's Office found that the police's, prosecutor's, and Israel Prisons Service computerized systems had only been connected in 2005. And three-and-a-half years after the system was supposed to be up and running, technicians were still working on data entry and ironing out kinks in the system. By the time the comptroller gathered information for the 2007 report, only 32 percent of crime victims' data had been entered into the system, a necessary precondition for withdrawing information to which they are legally entitled. Information pages that were supposed to be distributed in order to acquaint victims with their rights went undistributed, and frequently unprepared, as no single body had been appointed with composing or distributing them. Even the standard police forms that were given to the crime victim upon submitting a complaint failed to elicit from the complainant all of the information required by the 2004 amendment to the 2001 law. An 2005-2006 internal police check on 54 stations showed that the law regarding victims' rights was fully carried out in only 4% of police stations. In 33% of the stations the instructions were partially carried out, and in 43% of the stations the instructions were either not carried out at all or were carried out minimally.