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Israel Police arrest Ethiopian minors 4x more – comptroller report

CM 04/08/2021

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State Comptroller Matanyhu Englman said in a report on Wednesday that law enforcement arrested Ethiopian minors 3.8 times as often as the rest of the population throughout 2019.
Even with Ethiopian adults, the arrest rate was 1.9 times as often as compared to the rest of the population.  
“Five years after the police program to strengthen the public faith among Ethiopians, the rate of enforcement against Ethiopians remains much higher than for the rest of the population,” Englman said.

“Law enforcement officials must act to eliminate the phenomenon of racism, over-policing and profiling,” of Ethiopians, he said.
The report focuses mostly on police conduct towards Ethiopians between 2015-2020 but also reviews the conduct of the Public Security Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the IDF, the Israel Prisons Service and the court system.
There are approximately 155,300 Ethiopian-Israelis making up about 1.7% of the total population.
The report recounts nationwide protests by Ethiopians in 2015 and 2019 following incidents in which police killed Ethiopians under questionable or clearly illegal circumstances.
Noting moves by a 2015 police initiative and a 2016 government-wide task force to address racism against Ethiopians, he said there has been some improvement in recent years.
For example, the report said that even as arrest rates and investigations for Ethiopian minors were much higher relative to the entire population, they have decreased 4.1% (arrests) and 2.2% (investigations) respectively since 2015.
Despite this modest achievement, the report also said that the differential in over-policing against Ethiopian minors is still far too high and that regarding Ethiopian grownups there had been no improvement at all and possibly even a slightly higher rate of enforcement relative to the whole population.
Part of what went wrong, Englman noted, was that over the course of 2015-2018, the police spread out responsibility for improving issues with Ethiopians without having one central authority follow the issue.
Another issue highlighted by the report is that investigations of Ethiopian minors, even if the probes are closed later and found to be groundless, can severely harm their socio-economic track by blocking them from being drafted into the IDF.
The comptroller said that many Ethiopian minors do not even know that a probe has been opened against them and are taken by surprise that their draft process is suddenly halted.
Moreover, the report said that many Ethiopian minors do not have sufficient education or support to know how to deal with investigations and that the IDF and police have done little to make sure these investigations are wrapped up speedily.
More specifically, there is no maximum time limit or set of standards to encourage the police to wrap up these investigations in light of the national importance of integrating Ethiopians through their draft into the IDF.
The report also slammed law enforcement for moving too slowly on a major initiative to eliminate criminal records for Ethiopians convicted of minor crimes.
In November 2018, former president Reuven Rivlin and former justice minister Ayelet Shaked presented an initiative to eliminate these criminal records.
Yet, as of May 2021, only 48 out of 140 requests for eliminating these criminal records have been approved.
Next, the report noted a reduction in the number of indictments being filed against racism.
There was a high of 33 such indictments when awareness was heightened in 2015, the report said.
However, with reduced momentum in 2019, the number of indictments was down to only nine.
Regarding increasing the percentage of Ethiopians in the police and the Israel Prisons Service, the report found that the campaign on this issue has had limited success.
To date, the percentage among the police is around 1% and for the IPS it ranges between 2%-5.5% depending upon whether the issue is officers or rank and file. 

Source: Jerusalem Post

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