For many years, the question of who would investigate complaints of torture during interrogations by the Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security agency) was debated by the Ministry of Justice, the State Attorney’s Office, and the Shin Bet itself. Committees were appointed, reports were written, recommendations were made – and yet, on the ground torture continued and sometimes ended in death. A letter sent by the Minister of Justice to the Head of the Shin Bet in 1992 sheds light on the longstanding debate over the power to investigate Shin Bet interrogators, even though, as the Minister noted in his letter, torture “is beyond dispute.”
The Minister of Justice to the Head of the Shin Bet
The Justice Minister’s letter to the Head of the Shin Bet came amid a longstanding debate over who would investigate complaints of torture during Shin Bet interrogations. After the Shin Bet insisted on retaining the power to investigate complaints, a limited agreement was reached to transfer the authority to the Ministry of Justice. Eventually, at the end of that year, a new department named the Inspector for Complaints Against the Israel Security Agency was established. Until 2014, the department was part of the Shin Bet and only the Inspector’s supervisor was part of the Ministry of Justice.