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Former inmate denied prison visits: the case of NZ
4127/09 | 4127/09, 4128/09 | documents: 2  |  Updates: 1 In November 2008, NZ, a resident of Jerusalem, wanted to visit his two brothers who were incarcerated inside Israel. Both brothers were arrested in 1998 and were sentenced to prison – one for a term of 27 years and the other for 16 and half years. NZ was imprisoned for short terms in the past and he is therefore designated as a former prisoner by the Israel Prison Service (ISA). Under the IPS regulations, a former prisoner cannot visit inmates in prison without the prison commander's approval. Accordingly, NZ applied to the Nafha prison for permission to visit his brothers. In the past, NZ had received permission to visit his brothers in various prisons, however, this last application was denied. HaMoked contacted the ISA to facilitate the visits; six weeks later, in the absence of any reply, HaMoked petitioned to the High Court of Justice, demanding that NZ be allowed to visit his imprisoned brothers in Israel.

In response to the petition, the IPS argued, inter alia, that the petition should be dismissed out of hand because an alternative legal remedy was available to the petitioners – a prisoner's petition filed by NZ's brothers. However, HaMoked reasserted, the petition dealt with NZ's right as a former prisoner to visit his brothers in prison, and not with the incarcerated brothers' right to receive visits, as the IPS was trying to claim. In a similar case a few months earlier, the HCJ rejected these same arguments and held that the IPS regulation upon which the petition was based apply to former prisoners rather than to serving prisoners, and so, a completely different remedy was at issue.

Surprisingly, in NZ's case the court accepted the IPS' threshold arguments and dismissed the petition. The ruling effectively deprives an ex-prisoner, one who has been directly harmed by the decision of an administrative agency, of the option of resorting to the courts.

A year after the court ruling, HaMoked submitted new visitor applications for NZ to the prisons where his brothers were then held. In February 2012, he visited one of his brothers.

Between the Locked Prison Gates and the Locked Courthouse Gates: HCJ 4128/09 Zaghal v. Israel Prison Service Commissioner (Judgment of December 12, 2009)
Criticism  |  4127/09  |  30.12.2009
One of the things that mark a democracy as one is that an individual who is injured by a decision of a state authority is entitled to turn to the courts to have them review the decision. This is not always the case when it comes to Israel's Supreme Court.In the Zaghal case, the Supreme Court established a category of civilians who cannot turn to any court for a remedy against a certain category...
HCJ 4127/09 - Zaghal et al. v Israel Prison Service Commissioner Judgment
Judgment / Supreme Court  |  4127/09, 4128/09   |  9.12.2009
In its judgment on two petitions by HaMoked against the IPS’ refusal to allow Israeli former prisoners to visit their incarcerated loved ones, the HCJ denies the petitioners access to justice. The HCJ rules that the petitioners have alternative recourse in the shape of prisoners’ petitions and that the right to file such petitions lies with the prisoners whom they wish to visit. In light of thi...
The HCJ prevents access to the courts from former inmates who are residents of Israel and whom the IPS forbids to visit their incarcerated relatives: In the judgment, the court rules that the prisoner, rather than the persons who had been denied, has the exclusive right to petition on this matter (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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