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22.5.2008

HaMoked has petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) regarding the unreasonable delays in forwarding the findings of investigations by the Military Police Investigations Unit (MPIU) into cases in which Palestinians are injured by the security forces: HaMoked emphasizes that forwarding investigation findings to the victims and their families within a reasonable period of time forms an integral part of the basic right of complainants to due process, regardless of whether they intend to submit a civil suit and of whether an indictment has already been served in the case

On 12 May 2008, HaMoked submitted a principled petition to the HCJ regarding the State's protracted delays in forwarding material from MPIU investigations of events in which Palestinians have been the victims of attacks by security forces. The petition presents the stories of ten individuals who were attacked by security forces and whose cases were processed by HaMoked. In all these cases an MPIU investigation was launched only after HaMoked demanded that the incidents be investigated; in all the cases the investigations ended without any legal steps being taken. After the investigations were completed, HaMoked requested the findings, but the requests went unanswered for years. 

There is no dispute regarding the right of an injured person or his/her survivors to receive the investigative material in order to examine the circumstances surrounding the injury and the investigative means taken in the case. In addition to the right to know, the investigative material enables the victim to appeal against the manner in which the investigation was undertaken and to realize the right to compensation when this is considered appropriate. 

HaMoked emphasizes that time is a crucial factor in such cases. The more time that passes from the date of the incident, the less the chances of an effective appeal. It also becomes harder as time passes to undertake complementary investigations as required, or to locate those involved in the investigated incident. It is important to note that had the authorities behaved in a proper manner, the Petitioners could have received copies of the investigative material and considered whether to submit a civil suit. Due to the authorities' current conduct, as well as the amendments made to the Civil Wrongs (Liability of State) Law  establishing that the period of limitations is two years from the date of the incident, in most cases a suit must be submitted before the investigative material is received. 

The petition relates to three types of cases processed by HaMoked. In the first type, no civil suit was submitted and the period of limitations on the cause of action ran out, or a suit was submitted but ended in a compromise before the disclosure of documents was completed, and the MPIU delayed the transfer of investigative material for years without explanation. The second type includes cases in which a civil suit is pending, and the MIU has refused to forward the investigative material other than in the framework of the disclosure of documents in the civil proceeding. The third type includes cases in which HaMoked requested to extend the period of limitations in order to review the investigative material and decide whether to submit an appeal and/or a civil suit. In these cases, the MPIU has refused to forward the investigative material, arguing that this should be received as part of the disclosure of documents in the future civil proceeding. 

When processing the Petitioners’ complaints, HaMoked contacted the Military Advocate General (MAG) and detailed the unreasonable delay in securing the MPIU investigative material, emphasizing the grave injury caused to the complainants by the failure to forward the material within a reasonable period of time following notification of the decision to close the investigative file. HaMoked emphasized that the contacts between the MPIU and the State Prosecutor’s Office regarding the decision as to whether and when to forward the investigative material are improper and not supported by any law. Moreover, there is no connection between the obligation to forward the investigative material to an injured party, which is supported in case law and in the guidelines of the State Attorney's Office, and various procedures forming part of a civil suit. Among other demands, HaMoked requested that the MAG monitor the forwarding of investigative material and ensure that those responsible are aware that forwarding of material within a reasonable timeframe is an integral part of the basic rights of complainants to due process. The MAG replied that one of the reasons for the delays is that there was no single body responsible for coordinating this matter and no proper procedures on this subject; this has now been corrected, however. Despite the “correction,” eighteen months have since passed and the Petitioners have yet to receive the investigative files. 

mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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