Israeli Rights Groups Want To Force Shin Bet To Record Interrogations
A group of Israeli and Palestinian Human Rights groups petitioned the High Court of Justice last week to require law enforcement agencies to record interrogations of security prisoners.
The groups say visual and voice recordings of interrogations would prevent use of unacceptable interrogation methods and false confessions.
Currently, police are required to document only interrogations that are not security-related, and the Shin Bet security service is not required to record any of its interrogations.
The petition opposes the emergency amendment excusing security related cases from a 2002 law requiring that the police document interrogations of serious crimes (carrying prison sentences of 10 years or more ).
Abeer Baker, of Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, wrote the petition and it was submitted by that organization together with the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights and the Meezan Center, a Gaza-based human rights group.
The petition notes what it called the absurdity of "two suspects in identical crimes fighting to prove their innocence will receive two different trials: A teen accused of throwing stones at a bus of soccer fans who claims he is innocent and that the interrogators produced a false confession, can easily prove his claims by presenting records of his interrogation. In contrast, a teen suspected of throwing stones at a vehicle of soldiers and fighting to prove his innocence will find himself lacking any ability to prove his claims, merely because the investigating authority has classified the suspicion against him as security-related."
The petition says that the emergency regulation is harmful to the principle of equality before the law, and "in fact, is a matter of discrimination based on nationality, sine most suspects in security cases are Palestinians and Israeli Arabs."
The petition also notes that a 2009 report by the United Nations committee against terror quotes an Israeli claim that one reason complaints of Palestinians of improper means of interrogation cannot be investigated is because of the difficulty of presenting evidence. Baker proposes adopting the directives recently adopted by the United States which require visual and audio documentation of interrogations.