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Kohelet’s Perspective on an Independent Inspectorate for the Attorney General and State Prosecution

The Mission – To create an independent inspectorate devoted to improving the performance of Israel’s Attorney General and State Prosecution, including investigation of alleged violations of defendants’ civil and due process rights.
The Problem
Israel’s State Prosecution is directly subordinate to the Attorney General (a civil servant in Israel), who is also the government’s legal adviser and solicitor-general. There are many allegations, across the political spectrum as well as in the courts, of prosecutors abusing their powers through carelessness, incompetence or politial bias. The latter also affects the work of the Attorney General; it is frequently impossible for elected governments to ensure that their policies are adequately defended in court. Nobody knows just how bad the problem is because the state’s legal services are an administrative disaster, keeping no centralized records and possessing no central administrative body to ensure that legal standards are enforced consistently and without discrimination.
Current Law
The Attorney General and State Prosecution are subject by law to financial and administrative inspection by the State Ombudsman, but this inspection is occasional, and infrequent. The Ombudsman cannot review the entire field of (mal-)administration in Israel’s legal services and cannot review, far less correct, errors in legal judgment.
How It’s Done in Other Places
The gold standard in inspection of legal services is Britain’s independent Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate. HMCPSI reviews the financial, administrative and professional performance of Crown Prosecutors on an ongoing basis, using quantitative performance indicators. Its hard-hitting reports are laid before the Attorney General (a government minister) and Parliament–and picked up by the Press. It does not however accept complaints against individual prosecutors. The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) in the United States’ Ministry of Justice is directly subordinated to the Attorney General and charged with investigating complaints against US attorneys. A separate body imposes disciplinary action where necessary in the light of OPR’s reports.
Possible Solutions
An internal inspectorate subordinated to the Attorney General, without the power to investigate complaints An independent inspectorate within the Justice Ministry with the power to press charges against prosecutors suspected of administrative misconduct or illegal acts An inspectorate with special powers within Israel’s State Ombudsman’s Office.
Kohelet’s Recommended Solution
Taking HMCPSI as our model, Kohelet recommends establishing a special unit within the State Ombudsman with the power to conduct ongoing inspection of all aspects of the work of the Attorney General’s office and its subordinate units, including the State Prosecution. This inspectorate should also be empowered to investigate complaints and recommend disciplinary and legal action where relevant. This ensures the inspectorate’s complete independence of the Justice Ministry, where the Attorney general (though a civil servant) dominates. Kohelet has drafted the necessary emendation to Israel’s State Ombudsman Law

Author

  • ד"ר יצחק קליין

    ד"ר יצחק קליין הוא ראש מחלקת המדיניות בפורום קהלת. סיים תואר שלישי במדעי המדינה בחוג לממשל באונ' הרווארד שבארה"ב ועמד בעבר בראש המרכז המדיני לישראל, מכון למחקרי מדיניות העוסק בתחום החקיקה החוקתית וזכויות אדם בישראל, ושימש כיועץ לפרויקט החוקה של וועדת החוקה, חוק ומשפט של הכנסת.

Dr. Yitzhak Klein
Dr. Yitzhak Klein

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