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Following a petition by human rights organizations: the HCJ orders the state to justify the constitutionality of the law that denies social security benefits to parents of children convicted of “security offences”

On April 21, 2016, Adalah, HaMoked and other human rights organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to revoke Section 3 of the Penal Law (Amendment No. 120 and Temporary Order), 5776-2015, that denies payment of social security benefits to parents of minors convicted of security offences for the period of the minor’s prison sentence. The organizations challenged the legality of this clause, primarily for being discriminatory against convicted Palestinian minors, who constitute the absolute majority of minors convicted of security offences in the State of Israel.

During the HCJ hearing, held on January 25, 2017, the organizations asserted that the law was fundamentally discriminatory and unbalanced, also given the automatic denial of benefits from the parents upon the conviction of the minor, without any consideration of the individual circumstances or the severity of the sentence. With regards to the state’s contention that the purpose of this legislation was fighting against the purported “national calamity” of stone throwing, the organizations maintained that worse phenomena, such as drug traffic, were widespread in Israeli society, without anyone contemplating to deprive the parents of minors convicted of such criminal offences of their NII benefits. Justice Vogelman noted that a convicted drug dealer, for example, caused “a more fatal harm to society, in my opinion, so if the intention was to take care of the public interest… we are looking at a breach of equality”.

Moreover, the state claimed that the law was intended to “prompt parental involvement” in order to prevent stone throwing by Palestinian minors. The organizations rejected the alleged preventive purpose, given that it followed an offence already committed, and that this was in fact double punishment: incarceration and punishment through the parents by denial of NII benefits.

That day, the justices decided to issue an order nisi ordering the state to explain why the amendment is constitutional. The justices said they decided to issue the order because “on the face of it, there is ostensibly no equal correlation between the minors we are concerned with, and, for example, minors in a ‘regular’ criminal trial, hence the claim of discrimination”. The court instructed the state to respond within 45 days. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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