“Disturbance of Peace” charges against protesters cancelled following Adalah’s intervention
Following Adalah’s complaint, the Head of Coordination and Application at the Ministry of Environmental Preservation announced (letter, in Hebrew) the closure of files and cancellation of charges against five demonstrators. The five had stood beside the entrance of the Ramle police station while their friends were illegally detained during a protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in May 2012 held at Ramle prison.
As Adalah Attorney Orna Kohn emphasized in the letter to the Ministry that the charges, of “making noise,” - the equivalent of "disturbance of the peace," had no basis, and constituted an abuse of power.
The letter noted that the group of protesters had moved from a demonstration at the Ramle Prison to the police station in order to keep track of what was happening to their friends, who were arrested by the police despite the fact that a permit for their demonstration had been issued. The group was originally approaching one of the prison’s entrances, which they planned to demonstrate in front of, when they were beaten by a policeman and arrested with excessive force.
The remaining demonstrators went to the police station and waited in front of the entrance to find out what had happened to their friends. There, the police brutally assaulted them without justification and arrested nine of them. Afterward, a policeman came out of the police center and ordered the remaining five demonstrators to go inside, where he fined them disturbing the peace and infringing on the quality of the environment. The five demonstrators told the police that these charges were unwarranted, and that they would go to court to challenge them. The policeman responded that he would be “happy to be a witness before the court, to get a day off work,” and that “they would get their due in court.”
Attorney Kohn argued in the letter that the charges were issued without any justification, and that the protestors did not pose a nuisance or disturb the peace while they were waiting outside the police station. She emphasized that the police station is located far from residential areas in Ramle and police patrol cars constantly drive by it with sirens blaring.
The withdrawal highlights the baselessness of the charges and emphasizes the demonstrators’ version of events: that they were wrongly harassed by the police, and their rights to demonstrate and to bodily integrity violated.