The Israeli Supreme Court has rejected two petitions for an order to the Attorney General to carry out a criminal investigation into allegations of torture and mistreatment by the Shin Bet security agency.
A number of human rights organisations submitted the petitions last year in protest at the work of the official observer of detainees' complaints against Shin Bet and the Public Prosecutor regarding the opening of criminal investigations into the internal security agency. Some of the detainees alleging mistreatment were signatories to the petitions.
The Popular Committee against Torture submitted a report claiming that there were 598 complaints about torture and mistreatment against the agency between 2001 and 2008. The country's Public Prosecutor has not ordered an investigation into any of them.
Summing up, Supreme Court Judge Elyakim Rubinstein said "Shin Bet is neither above the law nor fortified against criticism, but the nature of its work has to be considered." In addition, Judge Rubinstein said that he had to consider the "political and ideological background of absurd complaints".
The Judge pointed out that opening an investigation is very important, but it necessary not to be arbitrary if there is clear evidence.
The Director of Israel's Public Committee against Torture, Dr Ishai Menuhin, said that the Court supported the central claim of the petitioners that members of Shin Bet cannot investigate their own colleagues. He added that the Court's decision contradicts international law which considers it to be mandatory to open an immediate and independent investigation into allegations of torture.