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Israel: Protection of Witnesses

(Jan. 30, 2009) On November 5, 2008, the Knesset (Parliament) passed the Protection of Witnesses Law, 5769-2008. The Law establishes the Authority for Protection of Witnesses within the Ministry of Internal Security. The Authority will deal with protection as well as security and rehabilitation of witnesses at high risk. The Authority has the discretion to determine whether a witness will be included in a protection program. This determination is based on police estimates regarding the level of danger to which the witness is exposed, the public interest in conducting a criminal trial, the importance of the witness's testimony in that trial, and the witness's suitability to be included in such a program, considering his or her criminal record, family status, and socio-psychological profile.

The security of a witness may include protection by high-level guards who have undergone special training by the Authority. These guards will have search and seizure authority, among other powers. The rehabilitation of a witness may include change of identity, a new place of residence either in Israel or abroad, assistance in finding work or educational opportunities, and any other action needed for the witness's assimilation in a new environment. (Protection of Witnesses Law, 5769-2008, the Knesset website, (last visited Jan. 21, 2009) [to access, click on “save” and “open with” Wordpad].)