A Knesset member introduced a bill today to limit the length and uses of gag orders and to provide for the right of appeal:
A bill being put forward by Nahman Shai, a Knesset member for the opposition Kadima party, would limit gag orders to a week.
“Gagging injunctions harm freedom of information and the public’s right to know, fundamental rights of citizens in a democratic state,” Nahman wrote in his proposal.
If the bill becomes law, police and the security services will have to apply to the courts for permission to extend gagging injunctions beyond seven days, with each extension limited to two weeks.
When requesting an injunction, law enforcement agencies normally cite the danger that publicity could harm an investigation or jeopardize national security. Under the new proposal, press union representatives will have the right to court sessions on newsblackouts and will also be able to appeal them.
Maariv’s report notes that the bill has bipartisan support among opposition and government coalition members which indicates it may have an ability to pass. This story also indicates, I’m proud to say, that my work (and Rechavia Berman’s and my other Israeli informants’) on the Kamm and Makhoul national security cases has impacted the thinking of these legislators. It’s a wonderful example of the power of blogs to do good:
According to the legislators, lately Israel has found itself under a communication siege. While foreign interest and media sources publish stories related to Israel, for example the Anat Kamm and Ameer Makhoul cases, it is forbidden to report on them in Israel. “This reality damages causes damage to Israel’s international status and its image as a democratic state, and likewise prohibits Israeli citizens from the natural right to know.
Therefore, it’s appropriate to appoint limits to gag orders.
I should add that nothing would give me more pleasure than to see Israel actually join the ranks of western nations that uphold such freedoms. But until then, we’ll continue doing our job with the help of our sources. And to those sources I say: “Thanks, and keep ’em comin’.”
If you’d like to share in the celebration of our mutual victory, please use the tip jar on your way out.