Israeli police routinely make unjustified arrests and infringe on civil liberties, according to Israel’s independent state comptroller, Yitzhak Tunik.
In his annual report on the government, released Monday, Tunik said police engage in harassment and that suspects are held in overcrowded jails without “reasonable basis for suspicion” and sometimes without even undergoing questioning.
Tunik, a retired criminal lawyer and former head of the Israeli Bar Assn. who acts as government ombudsman, told a news conference that it was the first time in 35 years that the comptroller’s office has investigated detention procedures.
He said violations of “basic civil liberties” were shown.
The report said that a study of arrests from January, 1982, to July, 1984, indicated a steady drop in the number of cases brought to trial. A total of only 600 criminal charges were filed against the 4,120 people detained in the first half of 1984.
“These figures show . . . that in not a few cases the police are inclined to arrest first and ask questions later,” the report said.
It cited dozens of cases in which police went beyond their authority by jailing people for suspected misdemeanors. Police in Israel have no authority to hold misdemeanor suspects.
Told to Incriminate
The report also said police officers were instructed by some commanders to “incriminate in any way possible” people with criminal records. “These instructions have no place in a lawful state,” it added.
The report contributed another stain to the increasingly tarnished image of the Israeli police. Newspapers recently reported cases of police brutality, particularly against Palestinians from the occupied Gaza Strip who work in Tel Aviv.
But the report made no specific reference to detained Palestinians.