The Freedom of Information Act in Israel: Your right to Inquiry
What is the Freedom of Information Act?
The Freedom of Information Act (1998) states that every person has the right to receive information from a Public Corporation or a Public Authority.This allows for a transparent and democratic Government and ensures citizens can understand decisions that may affect them. At our Israeli law offices, we are here to help citizens utilize the Freedom of Information Act in order to overturn, inquire and comprehend Governmental rulings.
Why is this Act important?
This act upholds the key principles of a democratic society. It intends to preserve Governmental integrity by forcing them to remain unambiguous and to show an open attitude to any inquiries citizens may have on a range of issues. It provides a fair forum to question decisions on health, immigration, the environment etc. However, stipulations within the law also ensure that the authority and discretion remain with the Government Officials, so this preserves stability.
Who can use the Freedom of Information Act?
Everyone, as both Israeli and non-Israeli citizens are covered under this law. Information and data should be granted unless it:
- Reveals someone else’s confidential information;
- Interferes with investigations, court proceedings or a person’s right to a fair trial;
- Will cause fear of harm to national security, the State’s foreign relations, public security or a person’s safety or welfare;
- Was produced over seven years ago.
The full regulations are laid out between Sections 8-14 of the Act.
Which Government Offices can this be applied to?
The Law states that every “Public Authority” is covered in this Act. These include key Government agencies such as the Ministry of Health, Tourism, Justice and Interior, but also includes Courts, the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) and even the Office of the President. Under Section 3 of the Act, each Government Office must have a special department for implementing the Freedom of Information Act. This forces all areas of the Israeli Government to remain transparent and fair.
What is the process of receiving information under the Freedom of Information Act?
To receive the desired information, an application must be made to the appropriate Government body that holds it. It should be noted that there is no need to explain why the information is desired. The appropriate authority then has 30 days to accept or decline the request, and from this point, if successful, another 15 days to provide the information.
What if the request for the Information is denied?
If the relevant authority believes that the request falls into any category between Section 8,9 or 14 of the Freedom of Information Act, they do not need to disclose the information. However, citizens can also appeal this decision by going to Court. The procedure followed is laid out in Section 17 of the Law. One must appeal to the Administrative Court where both the petitioner and the Government Office will present their arguments. If the court believes that neither Section 8 or 9 will be breached by providing the information, the Petitioner’s desired information will be disclosed. If the judge rules in favor of the Governing body, then the case is closed. Thus, it is important to have a capable lawyer presenting the petitioner’s case.
At our Israeli law office, our Advocates are available to help and assist the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act. This can include:
- Making an application to receive information from Government agencies;
- Representation in court to appeal unsuccessful applications to receive information;
- To answer any questions you may have on this Act and explain your legal rights.
Contact our specialist Lawyers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem via any of the following methods:
23 Hillel St,. P.O. Box 2849, Jerusalem, 9102801, Israel,
Tel: (+972)2-9903180, Fax: (+972)2-6447602
TEL AVIV BRANCH