Attorney General to Limit Claims by Government Authorities Against Community Organizations

Jerusalem Pride Parade 2005.  CC-BY-SA Pato12segJerusalem Pride Parade 2005. CC-BY-SA Pato12seg

 

In 2005, during Jerusalem’s gay pride parade, one of the participant’s was stabbed by an ultra-orthodox resident of the West Bank. The victim subsequently filed a claim for damages against the attacker, the Jerusalem Municipality and Israel Police. The police and the municipality responded by filing a third-party lawsuit against the Jerusalem Open House – the organizer of the parade. The authorities claimed in a statement that, inter alia, the Open House was guilty of negligence in insisting that the gay pride parade take place despite the violent atmosphere it provoked, and that the organization had even turned to the District Court to order that the march take place.

 

As a result of this claim, in April 2014, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) contacted the Attorney General to request that he take steps to retract this legal claim. In its correspondence with the Attorney General, ACRI explained that “making the Jerusalem Open House a civil defendant in the victim’s legal proceedings would strike a mortal blow to civil society organizations and to the very public interest that the prosecution and the Jerusalem Municipality are supposed to represent… [T]he claim filed by the prosecution would severely harm the right to access the courts, the rule of law, the struggle for human rights and the active participation of the citizenry in democratic processes… the essential values and interests that the state must preserve and promote.”

A similar request was also sent by the Jerusalem Open House and the International Human Rights Clinic at the Hebrew University.

 

On September 30, 2014, the Attorney-General responded to ACRI’s intervention by announcing the withdrawal of the police’s claim against the Open House.

The Attorney General’s statement clarified that: “Social change organizations, in the form of a person or an entity, are immune from claims for damages.” The announcement continued by claiming that: “As regards the duty of care imposed on the organizers of the demonstration… considerable weight must be given… to the essential public interest in supporting freedom of expression, while also considering the danger of creating a chilling effect on the public activity of social organizations… For the reasons referred to above, and to ensure a proper balance between public interests… orders have been distributed to all public prosecutors that they must obtain permission from their district prosecutor and the Deputy Attorney-General in any instance where they are considering filing a third party claim against an entity that raises public sensitivities… including social change organizations.”

 

Additional Materials

Complete correspondence between ACRI and the Attorney-General (in Hebrew).

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Categories: Democracy and Civil Liberties, Freedom of Expression, LGBT Rights

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