Supreme Court: IBA can’t broadcast Rose Pizem documentary

‘Protection of human dignity is the highest value in our legal system,’ says Justice Eliezer Rivlin.

Rose Pizem 311 (photo credit: Israel Police [file])
Rose Pizem 311
(photo credit: Israel Police [file])
The Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) cannot show its documentary on the Rose Pizem murder, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday.
Justices Eliezer Rivlin, Salim Joubran and Neal Hendel turned down the IBA’s appeal to overturn a District Court ruling preventing Channel 1 from broadcasting its six-part series on the investigation into the four-year-old’s murder.
RELATED:Mother, Grandfather get life for murder of Rose Pizem
IBA director Dror Morer, editor Tzipi Raz and producer Rachel Nechushtai have said the IBA has devoted considerable time to reconstructing and documenting the investigation into Rose’s killing at the hands of her grandfather, Ronny Ron.
They sought to broadcast the documentary, part of Channel 1’s “True Story” series, immediately after Ron and Rose’s mother Marie-Charlotte Renault were convicted in May.
Channel 1 contended that the documentary film is in the public’s interest, and that the public has a right to know details of the investigation.
However, the Central District Court ruled in favor of Ron, Renault and the state, who had asked that the court disallow the documentary’s broadcast.
The court decided that broadcasting the documentary would harm Ron’s and Renault’s privacy, a fact that outweighed the public’s right to know.
Ron, who was convicted in the Central District Court in May and sentenced to life imprisonment for Rose’s murder, argued the film would infringe on his right to privacy.
Rose’s mother, Marie-Charlotte Renault, was convicted of soliciting the murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Pizem filed a Supreme Court appeal in September, and her lawyers argue the documentary could harm that appeal as well as damaging her privacy rights.
However, the IBA argued that the circumstances of the Pizem murder investigation should be considered “exceptional,” particularly as the public was requested to help find Rose when she had been considered missing.
Considerable public resources had been invested in the search for Rose, who went missing from Netanya in May 2008, the IBA noted.
“From the moment that her parents abandoned her, [Rose] became the public’s child,” said IBA Director Dror Morer, when Channel 1 submitted its High Court of Justice petition in July.
The IBA argued that showing the public the facts of the investigation into Rose’s murder would prevent similar incidents from happening in the future, and make people aware that those who harm children forfeit their rights to privacy.
However, lawyers for the state, Ron and Renault said public interest in a particular incident does not justify violating a defendant’s privacy.
The state argued that exposing investigation material to the public could also have a negative impact on police investigations of potential witnesses, who may be deterred from cooperating if they knew that the proceedings could become public property.
In ruling to uphold the District Court judgment, Rivlin noted that even before the District Court pronounced its verdict, various media outlets including Channel 1 had filed requests to allow them to broadcast tapes of segments of police interrogations and reconstructions, but the district court refused the request on the grounds that the broadcast could influence witnesses who had yet to testify.
However the district court did allow publication of the contents of the tapes, just not the original voices, to maintain a balance between the public’s right to know and the dignity and privacy of the defendants.
The purpose of the law prohibiting publication of investigation material was to prevent “exposing a suspect, his picture and his voice, and allowing everyone to look at him in his moments of depression and shame, and sometimes in his squalor,” Rivlin said.
“Protection of human dignity is the highest value in our legal system; it is at the very top of the human rights enshrined in our Basic Laws.”
Significantly, however, Rivlin said that in the future, the court could consider another request to broadcast the documentary.
Itay Landsberg-Nevo, head of IBA’s documentary department told The Jerusalem Post that the IBA may make such a request after the Supreme Court rules on Marie-Charlotte Renault’s appeal.
“This is not the end of the matter. We will not leave this alone,” said Landsberg-Nevo.
“We still believe the public’s right to know is greater than [Ron’s and Renault’ s] right to privacy.”
Landsberg-Nevo described the six-part film as “part of the search for the truth.”
“We still don’t know, even today, where exactly Rose Pizem was murdered,” he added.