Following petition by Gisha, court orders Civil Administration to publish all missing procedures within six weeks, and orders it to pay 30,000 NIS in legal costs, AP 68189-12-14 Gisha v. Civil Administration
The Freedom of Information Act requires all public authorities to publish the operating procedures that guide their work and that are of public importance. The Civil Administration has failed to meet this obligation. Following a petition filed by Gisha, the Civil Administration undertook, a year ago, to publish roughly 80 operating procedures in both Hebrew and Arabic, by September 2015. It has failed to fulfill this pledge.
The conduct of the Civil Administration was marred by failure to meet obligations throughout the process. State representatives failed to uphold the provisions included in laws and regulations, ignored five different court decisions, as well as their own pledges to finish the work and publish the procedures. The Civil Administration committed to a deadline for publishing the final procedures on four different occasions, and failed to meet each one.
After repeated requests Gisha made to the court, and after the respondents ignored the court’s decisions, a hearing was scheduled for May 3, 2016, at the end of which, the court issued its judgment (Hebrew).
In the judgment, the court addressed the respondents’ delay in fulfilling their obligations, both before the petition was filed and with respect to the hearings held and decisions given thereafter. The judgment referred to a list of the respondents’ omissions, as listed in the brief filed by Gisha (Hebrew), and noted that the statements made in that brief formed part of the reasoning for the judgment.
The court endorsed the undertaking made by the Civil Administration to publish the hitherto unpublished procedures (approx. 25) in both Hebrew and Arabic, within six weeks, giving it the validity of a judgment. Gisha made it clear that if the Civil Administration failed to meet this final deadline, it would file a motion for contempt of court.
Because of the respondents’ conduct, the need to file a petition that significantly advanced the publication and the many delays by the respondents, the court ordered them to pay Gisha 30,000 NIS in legal costs. This is an unusually high amount in proceedings such as these and it reflects the serious defects in the respondents’ conduct and the effort Gisha had to make as a result.