February 2017 – Administrative petition to obtain information from the Ministry of Public Security and the Israel Police
In February 2017, GFKT filed an administrative petition asking the court to instruct the Ministry of Public Security and the Israel Police to disclose all the information collected, examined and drawn on in the minister’s decision to extend an administrative order allowing security guards to bear firearms outside of work sites and work shifts and to store them in their homes. The petition was filed under the Freedom of Information Act in the name of Isha L’Isha Feminist Center, GFKT’s home organization.
Extension of the administrative order was allowed by Amendment no. 18 to the Firearms Law, initiated by the minister in April 2016 and passed by the Knesset. The amendment grants the minister authority to allow employees of security companies to bear company firearms outside of their work sites and work shifts, when this is required “for purposes of protecting public security and wellbeing.” The amendment overrides clause 10c(b) of the same law, stipulating that company firearms be stored at guards’ work sites after work shifts.
In 2013, campaigning led by GFKT achieved enforcement of the (previously unenforced) clause 10c(b), after at least 38 people (20 of them women) were killed over the preceding 11 years with security companies’ guns that had been taken home. Following enforcement, these killings stopped altogether for several years. Since the return of company guns to guards’ homes after duty, on the authority of the Minister of Public Security, at least two women and one man have been shot dead with such firearms (in 2017 and 2018). xxx
After the petition was filed, the Minister of Public Security finally disclosed the requested documents in August 2017. The documents on which he based his decision to extend the administrative order were produced by the police and by the Firearms Licensing Branch of the Ministry of Public Security. These documents are devoid of any substantial data that might ground the decision. They present no more than a generalized claim to “security needs,” based on no concrete details, facts or statistics that might demonstrate these “needs.” The documents give rise to a distinct impression that the minister’s decision to extend the administrative order allowing guards to bear company guns indiscriminately was taken a priori. Apparently, it was not based on thorough, in-depth monitoring or oversight, or on the type of fact-finding that would have allowed an informed assessment of actual needs. Also, it seems to have been taken with no regard for predictable practical implications. The obligation of public authorities to ground and explain their decisions was totally ignored in this case, as was their duty to provide clear and transparent details on the procedures leading up to decisions to activate exceptions from the law.
The petition revealed that a government decision placing women and families at risk was taken without conducting vital fact checks or any assessment of outcomes. In this case, GFKT oversight provided clear evidence of governmental irresponsibility and disregard for the human security needs of women, men and families.
November 2019 –
Administrative petition demanding the Ministry of Public Security to provide requested data
In 2019 our Legal Advisor, Atty. Meisa Irshaid, sent repeated requests for information to the Ministry of Public Security, including a request for the concluding report of a committee appointed to review implementation of the new licensing policy, to which we provided evidence. The state ignored our requests even when the Government Freedom of Information Unit, to which we referred the case, issued a strong reprimand. Finally, GFKT filed an administrative petition to the court to instruct the ministry to provide the requested data. The petition, followed by determined negotiations with the ministry, finally succeeded in exacting part of the requested information. The ministry, however, still refuses to provide the requested Ronen committee report, which raises the question why. Do the committee findings pose a public hazard? Or, more likely, do they expose a hazardous policy? An amended GFKT petition was just filed in an effort to obtain an answer.