Report: Crime Victims' Rights not maintained

The annual State Comptroller's report revealed Tuesday that despite the fact that Israel signed on to a 1985 UN resolution defending crime victims' rights, and even after 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 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 rights to receive information from the police, to receive updates as to the management of the criminal proceedings in the victim's case and the right to defense against bodily harm by the attacker or any of their associates. Although that law has been on the books since 2001, the report delivered Tuesday emphasized that the necessary steps had yet to be completed to enable the law's actualization. State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss called on all involved parties 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." Deadlines for the step-by-step construction of the support systems necessary to deliver information to victims while still protecting the accused's right to privacy were outlined in the bill and subsequent amendments. But despite deadlines that were repeatedly pushed backwards, and generous timetables, the system has still not been fully enacted throughout the country. The report found that the database from which crime victims were meant to draw their information was insufficiently budgeted and missing several key elements. Six years after government agencies were meant to build the database, the State Comptroller's office found that the computerized systems of the police, prosecutors and the Israel Prisons Service were only 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. They noted that by the time the information was gathered for the 2007 report, only 32% of crime victims' data had been entered into the system, a necessary precondition for withdrawing information to which the victims 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 the responsibility of 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. When police stations were polled in an internal check of 54 police stations from 2005-2006, it was discovered that the law's prescripts were 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 not carried out at all or were done in a very minor manner.