Police to compensate youth over false detention at J’lem Pride March

Honenu has represented many citizens whose fundamental rights, including freedom of expression and freedom of protest, have been violated with regard to pride marches. Please click here for a list of relevant posts.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021, 11:25 The Jerusalem Small Claims Court has awarded a youth represented by Honenu close to 10,000 NIS in compensation over a false detention at a legal protest against the Jerusalem Pride March in an area authorized by the police. Every year, from 2017 to 2020, the youth has been systematically detained by the police on similar charges, but never indicted for any offense. Now the court has ruled that this is false detention, and the police must compensate the youth.

Pride March detention; Video credit: Free use

Honenu’s Eladi Weisel described the repeated violation of the plaintiff’s freedom of protest: “The police decided, for some reason, to set their sights on this youth when he was still a minor. Year after year, the police have detained him and thereby prevented him from protesting the march.”

The incident for which the plaintiff was awarded compensation occurred during the 2019 Jerusalem Pride March, as he was legally protesting. The site was filled with policemen under the command of Commander Yehonatan Vaknin, some of them plain-clothes, who recognized the plaintiff, a minor, from previous incidents. Commander Vaknin approached the plaintiff, demanded that he accompany him to the policemen, and told him, “Don’t make trouble. You know what the deal is.”

One of the plain-clothes policemen grabbed the plaintiff by the arm and demanded that he accompany him, without telling him the reason for the detention. None of the plain-clothes policemen presented their badges as required. When the plaintiff asked why he was being detained and told the policemen that he came to a legal protest that had been authorized in advance by the police, he was told that the cause was “suspicion of disturbing public order”. When the plaintiff tried to determine the basis for the suspicion, Commander Vaknin replied: “Not necessary… I’m going to detain you.”

The plaintiff asked the policemen to present their badges. One of them did, then detained and handcuffed the plaintiff, who was taken to the police station handcuffed in public, in violation of the law. He was held for six hours, handcuffed the entire time, until the march ended.

The judge did not accept the claim by the police of suspicion of disturbing public order, and stated that “the suspicion came as a fait accompli ‘from above’, without Commander Vaknin knowing its foundations.”

The judge wrote in his ruling that no justification was presented for handcuffing the plaintiff on the way to the police station and particularly not during his stay there. “This conduct is inexplicable and illegal… It is not clear what [the plaintiff] did wrong or even what the suspicion was that he would do wrong.

“To all this there is an additional component of the repeated conduct of the defendant to the plaintiff. Every year the plaintiff comes to exercise his democratic right to protest the [Jerusalem] Pride March and every year he is intercepted by the Israeli Police and he is deprived of his freedom, precisely during the hours of the march. Criminal indictments have not been filed. Thorough investigations have not been made. The facts speak for themselves.”

The judge enumerated the offenses that the police had made in the false detention, including the failure of the policemen to identify themselves and the unjustified handcuffing, and ruled that they must pay the youth 7,500 NIS in compensation and pay 1,650 NIS in legal expenses.

Honenu’s Eladi Weisel: “We welcome the decision to compensate the youth for the false detention through no fault of his own. This decision follows a series of decisions we received in cases which we handled concerning pride marches and the violations of freedom of the individual and the right of the public to protest the pride marches.

“In a democratic country, violation of a fundamental right such as freedom of protest is intolerable. This situation in which the police allow the march participants extensive freedom of expression, but violate the narrow freedom of expression granted to the protesters, is absurd. We call on the Israeli Police to internalize the court ruling and to stop the systematic violation of the pride march opponents’ freedom of protest.”

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