HaMoked to Ministry of Justice: Please provide information on the powers of the ISA Interrogatee Complaints Comptroller, the agency in charge of reviewing complaints by ISA interrogatees המוקד להגנת הפרט
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22.10.2014
HaMoked to Ministry of Justice: Please provide information on the powers of the ISA Interrogatee Complaints Comptroller, the agency in charge of reviewing complaints by ISA interrogatees
HaMoked to Ministry of Justice: Please provide information on the powers of the ISA Interrogatee Complaints Comptroller, the agency in charge of reviewing complaints by ISA interrogatees
The ISA Interrogatee Complaints Comptroller is the official in charge of looking into complaints made against interrogators of the Israel Security Agency (ISA, also known as the Shin Beit of General Security Service). The position was introduced in 1992, in the wake of the Bus 300 affair and the report of the Landau Commission. Until 2013, the ISA Interrogatee Complaints Comptroller was an ISA official, an employee of the agency he or she must investigate.

In June 2013, following a lengthy legal battle fought by HaMoked and other human rights organizations, the ISA Interrogatee Complaints Comptroller position was removed from the ISA, and full authority to investigate complaints by ISA interrogatees was transferred to the Ministry of Justice. However, the procedures governing the review of complaints and supervision over this review remained unknown.

On September 10, 2014, HaMoked contacted the Ministry of Justice with a request for clarifications regarding the comptroller’s powers. HaMoked asked how the review process works, what powers the comptroller has with respect to complaints and whether the comptroller had a superior who is responsible for making final decisions as to whether or not to launch criminal investigations into the conduct of ISA interrogators.

Though the request was not made under the Freedom of Information Act, on September 16, 2014, the Ministry of Justice notified HaMoked that it had had been transferred to the ministry’s freedom of information officer.

On October 21, 2014, HaMoked received another letter from the Ministry of Justice, again without the requested information. Instead, the letter stated that a fee must be paid if processing was to continue. We note here that as a registered non-profit servicing the public, HaMoked is exempt from fees on freedom of information requests. Ironically, the agency that publishes the list of non-profits that are exempt from fees is the Government Freedom of Information Unit, which is a department of the Ministry of Justice – the very same body that issued the payment demand.

There can be only two explanations for this: either one part of the ministry has no clue what the other does, or worse, the ministry deliberately obstructs the provision of information that of crucial public importance.
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The ISA Interrogatee Complaints Comptroller is the official in charge of looking into complaints made against interrogators of the Israel Security Agency (ISA, also known as the Shin Beit of General Security Service). The position was introduced in 1992, in the wake of the Bus 300 affair and the report of the Landau Commission. Until 2013, the ISA Interrogatee Complaints Comptroller was an ISA official, an employee of the agency he or she must investigate.

In June 2013, following a lengthy legal battle fought by HaMoked and other human rights organizations, the ISA Interrogatee Complaints Comptroller position was removed from the ISA, and full authority to investigate complaints by ISA interrogatees was transferred to the Ministry of Justice. However, the procedures governing the review of complaints and supervision over this review remained unknown.

On September 10, 2014, HaMoked contacted the Ministry of Justice with a request for clarifications regarding the comptroller’s powers. HaMoked asked how the review process works, what powers the comptroller has with respect to complaints and whether the comptroller had a superior who is responsible for making final decisions as to whether or not to launch criminal investigations into the conduct of ISA interrogators.

Though the request was not made under the Freedom of Information Act, on September 16, 2014, the Ministry of Justice notified HaMoked that it had had been transferred to the ministry’s freedom of information officer.

On October 21, 2014, HaMoked received another letter from the Ministry of Justice, again without the requested information. Instead, the letter stated that a fee must be paid if processing was to continue. We note here that as a registered non-profit servicing the public, HaMoked is exempt from fees on freedom of information requests. Ironically, the agency that publishes the list of non-profits that are exempt from fees is the Government Freedom of Information Unit, which is a department of the Ministry of Justice – the very same body that issued the payment demand.

There can be only two explanations for this: either one part of the ministry has no clue what the other does, or worse, the ministry deliberately obstructs the provision of information that of crucial public importance.
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