Merging the Israeli Police Prosecution with the State Attorney’s Office
Motion for the Agenda 8
A motion for the agenda that recommends merging the Police Prosecution Department with the State Attorney's Office in Israel, in order to separate the prosecuting body from the investigative body.
According to the current division of responsibilities between the police prosecution and the State Attorney's office in Israel today, the police prosecution department prosecutes almost 90% of criminal cases. In other words, contrary to what is sometimes thought, the State Attorney's office does not actually prosecute the charges in most cases; rather, the State Attorney's office issues indictments for more serious offenses, while the police prosecution department prosecutes less serious crimes.
The fact that the police prosecution is subordinate to the police makes it difficult for the prosecution to fulfil the very purpose for which it exists: to represent the public interest objectively or quasi-judicially. The Israel Police—as an investigative body—must achieve results in law enforcement. However, because the police prosecution is subordinate to the Israel Police, which is a hierarchical security body, the prosecution has an overly zealous tendency to achieve convictions and, thus, to ignore the mistakes and possible biases of the investigating body, namely the police.
Our analysis of the findings of a study of criminal cases published by the Courts' Research Division indicate that there are significant differences between the way the police and the State Attorney's office function. Our analysis shows that the State Attorney's office exercises more rigorous and better judgment than the Police Prosecution. For this reason, in 2001, the Israeli government decided to merge the Police Prosecution with the State Prosecutor's office. Unfortunately, this decision has yet to be implemented.
This IDI Motion for the Agenda recommends:
- To merge the Police Prosecution Department with the State Attorney's Office, in order to separate the prosecuting body from the investigative body.
- To keep the structure of the Police Prosecution as it is and to transfer it to the Ministry of Justice, i.e. to the State Attorney's Office.
The proposed changes will improve the quality, fairness, and professionalism of both the prosecution and the police. These changes are necessary in order for the citizens of Israel to realize their right to due process.
This publication was made possible by the generous support of the David Berg Foundation.
Dr. Guy Lurie is a researcher at IDI, and a post-doctoral fellow at the Minerva Center for the Rule of Law Under Extreme Conditions at Haifa University. His research focuses on the legal system and the history of public law, the philosophy of public policy, and citizenship.
Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer is Vice President of Research of the Israel Democracy Institute and Professor Emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law.