Private enterprises that have been empowered to perform law enforcement infringe the rights of Israelis, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said in its report on Sunday. The organization noted that such businesses, often tasked with policing or carrying out court-orders and arrests (and in some cases run rehabilitation programs for convicts), often abuse their powers and exceed their mandate.
According to the report, private for-profit organizations are granted the authority to use force on citizens and revoke their rights. Private lawyers that are employed as criminal prosecutors by government ministries get to decide which citizens or companies are prosecuted, and they are rewarded accordingly; security officials patrol the cities, hunt down offenders and chase them if necessary, impose roadblocks and put people in detention; private collection agencies that work on behalf of municipalities monitor people's activities and they get to decide whether to foreclose their assets which could include seizing their bank accounts and property; employees working in juvenile detention facilities can use force and lock them up in a secluded room to restrain them.
The report says that the privatized functions are not placed under proper oversight and are handed over to private enterprises without giving the public a chance to provide any input. In certain cases the delegation of authority is carried out even though this may be against the law. "The default explanation is that this [privatization] would cut costs, but the financial benefits create a conflict of interest and the potential pursuit of a draconian policy that hurts human rights and erodes public services. This is because the state has been shirking its law-enforcement obligations."
One of the rare occasions in which a public debate was held on such matters was when the Supreme Court heard a petition on the privatization of prisons in Israel. The court recognized that the use of force must remain fully vested with the state. But, ACRI says, that ruling did not stop the slide toward further outsourcing of law-enforcement activities.