Justice minister, Shin Bet at odds over bill banning illegally obtained evidence

Security services insist bill will endanger investigations; Gideon Saar says police and Shin Bet must operate within the law.

By World Israel News Staff

A proposed law by Justice Minister Gideon Saar to ban illegally obtained evidence got strong pushback from the Shin Bet and Israeli police.

Under Saar’s proposal, courts would disqualify illegally obtained evidence even in cases of national security.

The security services criticized Saar’s proposal, saying it would severely hobble investigations of terror groups, organized crime and extremist organizations where agents frequently operate under cover. Police also expressed concern for the bill’s implications for investigations of cybercrime.

“The far-reaching implications of the bill can lead to confessions of interrogees being disqualified one after the other,” a security source told Ynet News.

“It must not be forgotten that while the Shin Bet is careful when it comes to violating the provisions of the law, it often operates in a legal ‘gray area’. The fear now is that this area will be completely erased and it will be difficult for the organization to bring definite results.”

Senior police officials told Ynet they fear that sophisticated lawyers for organized crime suspects would exploit any loophole by seeking the disclosure of confidential evidence.

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But Saar dismissed the criticisms of his bill, saying, “In a properly functioning state, law enforcement agencies should act within the boundaries of the law, which is precisely one of the purposes of the bill, as well as reinforcing the importance of a fair trial and individual civil rights.”

He added that the bill would protect “the purity of the judicial process, the right of defendants to a fair trial and the duty of law enforcement authorities to act within the law.”

The legislation is based on the recommendations of a legal committee that investigated this issue among others. It is also on a list of judicial reforms that were key part of Saar’s New Hope party’s agreement to join the governing coalition.