Knesset Round Up | June 21

 Freedom of Expression

Proposed Law: Restriction of Access to a Website to Prevent the Committing of Offenses, 5775-2014 – preparation for Second and Third Readings
Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee | Monday, 19 June 2017, 12:30 p.m. | Preparation for Second and Third Readings

ACRI’s position (jointly with the Law and Technology Clinic at the University of Haifa, the Movement for Freedom of Information, and the Israel Internet Association): This is the first in a series of proposed laws that will permit the removal of content, blocking of websites, and regulation of freedom of expression on the internet. This proposal addresses the blocking of websites whose activities are connected to offenses that are not necessarily related to freedom of expression, but the steps proposed – restriction of access and blocking of access to websites and search results – are liable to violate freedom of access to information, freedom of expression, and the right to privacy.

Violation of freedom of expression and freedom of access to information inevitably damages the possibility to foster democratic and open discussion. If this is done in a non-transparent manner, without the public being aware of the blocking of the information or the considerations behind the decision to block access to information, the damage is even greater. This is true whether the censorship is applied by private companies or by the state, through orders. Given that this is an innovative arrangement that has not yet been tried in Israel, it is particularly important to ensure that public control and judicial review of the arrangement is effective. Again, this requires that the proceedings be undertaken in a transparent and pubic manner.

Mechanisms should be added to the proposed law ensuring that: The proposed proceedings in the law for issuing an order will be undertaken in as public a manner as possible; the use of confidential evidence and inadmissible evidence is kept to the minimum; the interest of the general public of internet users will be represented in the proceedings, though a representative such as the Israel Internet Association; and, above all – that applications to issue an order and the court decisions on the subject will be published in as public a manner as possible, and that a full report will be presented to the committee and to the public regarding applications and orders, in order to enable the monitoring of the use of the proposed new tools.

Administrative Detention

Proposed Law: The Struggle against Terror, 5775-2014 – remaining portion – preparation for Second and Third Readings
Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee | Tuesday, 20 June 2017, 12:00 p.m. | Preparation for Second and Third Readings

The discussion concerns a government bill regulating the use of administrative detentions and administrative restriction orders. The proposal seeks to transform the arrangement for administrative detentions into a permanent law forming an integral part of the state’s laws. It also seeks to expand the powers of the defense minister to violate citizens’ liberty.

ACRI’s position: The proposed law seeks to perpetuate the draconian regulations from the British Mandate era and is unsuited for a democratic country in the twenty-first century. Administrative detentions cause grave damage to human rights, circumvent proper trials, and impose a serious blemish on Israel’s democratic character. Administrative detention violates a person’s right to be free of arbitrary detention, and is based on the improper assumption that it is possible to predict citizens’ future conduct. It imprisons people who have not committed any crime, based on confidential material, without those involved knowing what they are suspected of and without the state needing to prove that they present a danger beyond reasonable doubt in a fair criminal trial. Administrative detention allows the authorities to imprison a person regarding whom there is no admissible evidence proving guilt, and exempts the security agencies of the need to make an effort to collect admissible and sufficient evidence for prosecution. Administrative restriction orders also violate basic rights and fundamental democratic principles. They do not enable the citizen to challenge the order through due process, and accordingly they are improper.

ACRI demands that administrative detentions and restriction orders be nullified immediately. At the very least, they should be permitted only in an extreme emergency situation, to be the subject of special declaration, when the capacity of the law enforcement agencies to act is gravely and seriously disrupted. We recognize the importance of the effective struggle against terror, as well as the state’s obligation to protect its citizens against serious violence. As a democratic state, however, Israel must combat terror in a manner that is consistent with the basis of its existence as a democracy.

Translating the Director-General’s Circulars in the Ministry of Education into Arabic

Translation of the Director-General’s Circulars and Matriculation Certificates into Arabic
Education, Culture, and Sport Committee | Wednesday, 21 June 2017, 10:00 a.m. | Discussion

ACRI’s position: The circulars issued by the Director-General of the Ministry of Education are official and binding documents published by the Ministry. They include instructions, rules, and safety procedures for schools and their surroundings, and they are addressed to teachers, principals, students, and parents throughout the education system. The Director-General’s circulars are very important for the proper conduct of all educational institutions in Israel. At present, the circulars sent in compiled form to the principals of Arab schools, and published on the Ministry of Education’s website, are available in Hebrew only and are not translated into Arabic. This seriously impairs the ability of Arab teachers, parents, and students to education and to equality within the education system, and is contrary to the provisions of the law and to Supreme Court rulings. ACRI is asking the committee to work with the relevant bodies to ensure that all the existing Director-General’s circulars are made accessible, and that future circulars are published in Arabic.

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Categories: Democracy and Civil Liberties

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