What is the Recommendations Law? What’s at risk? / Ohad Shpak
At the end of 2017, the Israeli Knesset approved the proposed “Recommendations Law,” or in its official name, “Criminal Procedure Law (Amendment – Prohibition of Recommendation or Opinion of an Investigative Authority), 2017,” which includes an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Law, The main elements of criminal law in Israel.
The law will create two changes in how police will transfer investigation files to the State Prosecutor’s Office:
(A) When the State Attorney’s Office or the Attorney General conducts an investigation with an attorney, the police will not be permitted to submit an opinion about the case they hand over. The law demands that the police, or any other investigative authority, shall not “connect the dots” in the case.
(B) Prohibition to publicize the police department’s position regarding the implications of the evidences. According to the Attorney General’s 2003 directive, in special cases the police are to publish a summary of the investigation, including opinions on certain issues. The cases that are being published are usually cases of special public interest such as investigations of public figures and senior officials. Practically speaking, the public receives official information about investigations of about a dozen public figures every year.
Here are some potential ramifications:
(1) This law will, without justifiable cause, harm the working relationship between the police and the State Attorney’s Office. Without a summary of the case, the prosecution will find it difficult to map the case and use the findings therein. With their limited manpower, it will necessarily delay the handling of cases.
(2) The public has the right to know! The law will withhold information from the masses. The practice today is that the police provide information about investigations of public figures in accordance with the instructions of the Attorney General. This allows us to properly assess our relationships with public figures as they undergo scrutiny. The opinions expressed by the police do not share the same biases as content provided by the media. This can impact campaigns, elections and public support. This can lead us to a mistakenly negative, or unfairly positive conclusion about the public figure in question.
Bottom line: If a person of importance was interrogated by the police, and the police decided to summarize his interrogation, the public has the right to access this information.