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Police Body Camera Bill Takes Shape in Israel

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MK (Member of the Knesset, Israel’s legislative branch of government) Avraham Negusie (of the Likud–National Liberal Movement, the major center-right political party) has proposed a bill, nicknamed the ‘Damas Pakada’ bill after the Ethiopian soldier who was beaten by two police officers last month, that would require police engaged in arrests to wear video cameras.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Damas Pakada, the Israeli Ethiopian soldier who was assaulted by police officers, at the Prime Minister’s Office, May 4, 2015. (Picture: Haim Zach/GPO)

MKs of all factions are expected to add their signatures to the bill, an amendment to the 1996 Criminal Procedure Law (Powers of Enforcement — Arrest), according to Israel television station Channel 2.

“The bill will solve the problem of police brutality directed against those of Ethiopian origin in Israel and against citizens in general,” Negusie said. “It will reduce the number of false complaints of police brutality.”

Negusie said a similar law had already proven effective in several cities in the United States.

 Avraham Neguise, Israel, Knesset

MK Avraham Neguise speaks in a committee meeting at the Israeli Knesset in 2012. (Photo by Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

The Hebrew-language news site Ynet reported that in the bill’s explanatory notes, Negusie cited Paragraph 1 of the current Criminal Procedure Law (Powers of Enforcement — Arrest), which reads: “The arrest and detention of a person will be in a manner that ensures maximum protection of his human dignity and rights.”

He also cited Paragraph 2 of Israel’s Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, which reads: “There shall be no violation of the life, body or dignity of any person as such,” and Paragraph 5, which reads: “There shall be no deprivation or restriction of the liberty of a person by imprisonment, arrest, extradition or otherwise.”

Negusie, a member of the Ethiopian community, told Ynet that he felt many cases of police brutality never came to the attention of the public or the media, and that his bill would reduce the number of such incidents.

Meretz chair MK Zahava Gal-on asked former public security minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch nearly two years ago to support a one-year trial period in which police officers would wear the cameras.

Gal-on cited a police body camera program in California that led to a drop of almost 60 percent in the use of force by police officers and a decrease of 88% in the number of complaints filed against police in the first year after the program was launched in February 2012.

(Via: The Times of Israel)

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