I have the honor to address you in my capacity as Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 44/8.

The purpose of this letter is to share with you my comments and advice regarding a set of proposals put forward by the Minister of Justice, which, if enacted without significant alteration, I believe would seriously undermine the independence of courts in Israel, including the Supreme Court. The proposals include measures that could harm the independence of legal advisers charged with guiding government ministries. Recalling that one of the main purposes of an independent judiciary is to protect human rights and check the power that would endanger such rights, I have various comments regarding the compatibility of these legislative proposals with the international human rights law obligations binding on Israel.

Specifically, the proposed legislative changes would likely:

-Change the process of appointing judges,
-Allow the Parliament to override decisions of its Supreme Court,
-Give members of the Parliament the power to shield legislation from judicial review,
-Direct the Supreme Court not to use certain standards in reviewing government enactments, and
-Turn otherwise binding legal advice by government lawyers into advisory opinions.

In this context, I recall that Judicial independence is a bedrock requirement of the right to a fair trial, the right to equality before the law, and the right to a fair remedy for all manner of rights violations.

In this communication, I do not aim at providing a comprehensive analysis of the entire set of legislative proposals, or the historical performance of the Israeli Supreme Court. Instead, I focus on the possible impact of the proposals on judicial independence and the proposals’ compatibility with international human rights law and standards.

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