Recommendations for the Incoming Justice Minister
After three contentious election campaigns Israel's new government has been sworn in. IDI's experts weigh-in with their recommendations on the most important issues on the agenda. Nadiv Mordechay presents policy recommendations for the incoming Justice Minister.
The Government’s To Do List
Lead constitutional reform and entrench the proper constitutional relations among the three branches of state (Knesset, Government, and the Supreme Court). The Minister of Justice should lead an effort to regulate these relations in such a way that will protect the independence and constitutional roles of each. Several proposals are under consideration in the Israeli public debate, including the enactment of a new Basic Law: Legislation, and the formal, concrete and explicit entrenchment of constitutional judicial review in a basic law.
Preserve the existing model for the Judicial Selection Committee, while upgrading its work. The minister should act to preserve the existing balances within the Judicial Selection Committee; and to anchor the representation of the opposition delegates among the committee’s political representatives by amending the Basic Law: The Judiciary. Alongside protecting the selection model and the judiciary, it is important to enhance e the committee’s work in several respects, including preventing conflicts of interest among Committee members, and upgrading the preparatory course for candidates, including for candidates for the Supreme Court bench who have not yet served as judges.
Implement diversity practices, as part of ongoing processes. The committee should take active steps to ensure that minority groups are represented in the list of judicial candidates and in the composition of courts. The minister should make sure that attempts to politicize the model for judicial appointments are firmly rebuffed.
Introduce regulations for the operation of the court system during a state of emergency. Emergency regulations for the operation of the court system should be well-defined. The authority to declare a state of emergency should be divided between the justice minister and the President of the Supreme Court. In parallel, efforts should be made to advance the ministry’s work on introducing national state-of-emergency legislation and on revoking the problematic longstanding state of emergency that has been in effect since the establishment of the state of Israel.
Introduce legislative reform. The justice minister should work with the Attorney General to properly steer the work of the cabinet committee for legislation, to continue the process of structuring the ministry’s work on government legislation, to support the transition to working under an annual legislative plan, and to improve the interface between the government and the Knesset.
Pass a new Privacy Act. The coronavirus crisis and the challenges it brings with it regarding the technological surveillance of citizens while protecting their privacy, has highlighted the need for reforming the regulation on the protection of privacy in Israel in appropriate legislation. In parallel, steps should be taken to enhance transparency in the work of the Ministry of Justice.
Regulate the relations between the State Attorney’s Office, the Israel Police Prosecution Division, and the Israel Police Department for Internal Investigations. There must be greater oversight of the Police Prosecution Division by the State Attorney’s Office; a return to the program, that had been planned, to merge the two; and improving practices and procedures for investigations of complaints against police officers, using a multi-system approach.
Formulate a code of ethics for cabinet ministers, based on the recommendations of the "Shamgar Commission". Ethical standards for cabinet ministers were formulated by a commission headed by former Supreme Court President Shamgar, to formulate and implement a code of ethics for members of cabinet. These recommendations should be advanced by the Ministry of Justice.
Advance the reform relating to incitement to racism and violence. Crimes of incitement to violence and racism should be defined in law, while ensuring the protection of freedom of expression.
Complete the reform of Israel’s homicide law. Reform to the homicide law was introduced at the end of 2018, but not all the reform’s components were included in legislation, due to the dissolution of the 20th Knesset. Legislation should now be completed to include the offense of wrongful death through gross negligence- an important component of the reform’s new graded scale of offenses. This offense relates mainly to traffic accidents and work accidents, both of which have been on the rise in recent years.