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Israel: Provisions on Parole of Convicted Murderers

(Nov. 6, 2014) On November 4, 2014, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) Plenum approved the second and third reading of the Parole Bill (Amendment No. 14), 5775-2014. (Press Release, Knesset, Final Approval: People Who Commit Exceptionally Severe Acts of Murder Will Not Be Freed Until They Serve at Least 40 Years of Their Sentence (Nov. 4, 2014).) The approval of the Parole Bill follows the enactment of the Government Law (Amendment No. 9), 5774-2014 on July 29, 2014. (Government Amendment Law [in Hebrew], SEFER HAHUKIM (SH) 5774 No. 2467, p. 730, available at the Knesset website; for a summary of the Government Amendment Law, see Ruth Levush, Israel: Release of Prisoners Based on State or Security Reasons, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Oct. 23. 2014).)

Like the Government Amendment Law, the Parole Bill does not directly “take away from the authority of the President [the ability] to pardon prisoners.” (Parole Bill, supra.) The Parole Bill prohibits the Parole Committee, which is established under the Parole Law, 5761-2001 (SH 5761 No. 1795 p. 410, as amended) from reviewing requests for early release by prisoners who have received a life sentence for acts of murder the courts have determined to be exceptionally heinous, unless at least 15 years have passed from the day of the sentencing and the sentence has not been commuted to less than 40. (Parole Bill, supra..)

In addition to prohibiting the review of parole requests from prisoners under the above-described conditions, the Parole Bill establishes that the government will not have the authority to free prisoners on the basis of its general authority to manage foreign relations or the security of the state. According to a Knesset press release, it was also proposed that a transitional provision be included “according to which the law will apply to someone who had not been sentenced yet, as long as the court has allowed for the sides to present their arguments on whether the accused committed an exceptionally severe murder.” (Id.)