On May 27, 2014, Gisha petitioned (Hebrew) the Tel Aviv District Court sitting as the Court for Administrative Affairs to instruct the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to publicize all written administrative guidelines governing its operations. Gisha noted that the COGAT was obligated to do so under Section 6(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 5768-1998 (Hebrew).
Despite the clear obligation stipulated in the act, COGAT refuses to abide by the law and voluntarily publish the information.
COGAT operations and procedures affect the lives of some 2.6 million Palestinian residents of the West Bank and about 1.7 million residents of the Gaza Strip. It is clear that access to COGAT information is crucial for Palestinians to be able to exercise their rights.
Gisha has sent countless letters over the years in an attempt to have COGAT procedures published, most of which remained unanswered. In the absence of an appropriate response, Gisha filed a complaint with the Governmental Freedom of Information Unit at the Ministry of Justice (Hebrew) on July 23, 2013. The unit’s response of July 28, 2013 stated that “The complainant is correct. The importance of publicizing the administrative guidelines by which the authorities operate cannot be overstated. It suffices to note the importance attached thereto by the legislature, which took the initiative to anchor the obligation to publish guidelines in the Freedom of Information Act”. Hence, the petition filed under the Freedom of Information Act.
The court scheduled a hearing for September 30, 2014 and instructed the respondents to submit their response by September 1, 2014.