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Israel[1] [print]

Last Edited: September 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

 

Although Israel has a formal child protective system, based on the legal frame and social services at the governmental and municipal level, this system was designed previous to the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and therefore the legal principals do not reflect the provisions of the convention. According to Israeli jurisprudence, since the Israeli parliament did not enact the Convention as Israeli law, the convention is not enforceable directly in courts. The Convention does have significance in courts as an interpretation source and the state is obliged to apply its articles.[2]

 

The current legal frame in regard to children's rights, protective proceedings, and representation is not unified into a single and organized statute. At present, there is no law in Israel regarding the general obligation to hear children in any matter pertaining to their lives, as is stipulated by article 12 of the Convention, although children are given the opportunity to be heard in some protective matters. The legal frame recognizes the right of the child to be represented, but does not treat this right as a normative and separate right of the child.

 

The main statue addressing the issue of representation of children is The Capacity and Guardianship Law from 1962. This law defines who is a minor and addresses issues of legal representation of minors. The basic rule established in article 4 of this law is that any action taken by the minor requires his representative's agreement. This article joins article 15, which states that parents are the legal guardians of the minor, and that the parents as the legal guardians have the power to represent the minor, among other responsibilities. Article 68(a) empowers the court to appoint a guardian ad litem for a minor when needed in order to protect the minor's rights.

 

According to articles 28 and 30 of the Guardianship Law, the court may revoke or limit a parent's role as guardian, or appoint an additional guardian alongside the parent, only after the parent has been given an opportunity to express his or her opinion on the matter. The law does not state the necessity of hearing the child's opinion. 

In addition to the general representation duties, there are specific laws that address the issue of representation of minors in protective proceedings:

 

Article 8 of The Youth (Care and Supervision) Law, does state that the court will hear the minor himself before making a decision in cases such as removing a child from the custody of his parents. In 1999 the law was amended and article 8C was added to empower the court to appoint a legal guardian for the minor, to handle the proceedings in any case where the appointment is needed to protect the best interest of the minor. The court need not get the position of the minor on appointing such a guardian for him/her. According to article 9 of the law, however, “despite what is stated in section 8, the court may avoid summoning the child if it is convinced that he or she cannot understand the matter, or if appearing before the court will endanger the child.”

 

Other statutes, such as the Family Court Law, empower the court to appoint temporary guardians or guardians ad litem for minors in civil proceedings, adoption proceedings, and in family court proceedings – in the latter case the law also allows the minor to file a legal claim, by himself or with help of an adult (a close friend) or the social officer, in any case that his rights are in danger of infringement. However, it should be noted that there is no easy way for a child to petition the court independently, and that, in most cases, a child is not represented separately from his parents.[3]

 

Israel belongs to the Common Law jurisdictions and therefore, many developments in Israeli jurisprudence begin at the courts, especially the Supreme Court. The first to acknowledge the rights of children to be represented was the Supreme Court in a verdict given in 1949, stating the importance of appointing a guardian ad litem to represent children.[4] This precedent served as the guideline for courts, since there was no statue addressing the issue until 1962, and was repeated and reinforced over the years.

 

However, along the years, the courts scarcely used their power to appoint guardians. Instead, courts developed alternative solutions to the issue of representation of children; the most common was the doctrine according to which the courts are the guardians of the children. Another method was to separate the proceedings in which the child was involved, from the proceedings of the parents where possible.

 

The change in the courts' view started in the mid 1990s. In a decision written by Chief Justice Barak,[5] the court stated that a guardian ad litem should be appointed to represent children in custody proceedings in order to have their best interests protected separately from the parents' interests.

 

Following this decision, the Supreme Court stated not only the importance of representation of children but that the right for representation is one of the independent rights of children.[6]

 

The Family Courts have continued to develop the independent representation of children, basing their decisions on article 12 of the CRC and the Israeli laws.[7] The normative right of children to be represented independently in court is developing in the courts and is preceding the legislation. Nevertheless, this process of development takes longer than a comprehensive change in legislation and also creates uneven decisions regarding the relevant issues.

An example of the uneven court decisions is the issue of the participation of children in proceedings: In practice, Children under the age of eight are usually not present in court, but children between the ages of eight and eleven are sometimes present, depending on the child protection officer's assessment of the child's capabilities and on the judge's preference. While some judges insist on hearing the child in court, others do not. Children age twelve or older are usually present in court.

 

The child protection services in Israel are conceived of and implemented by the social welfare system, reflecting a belief in social intervention, rather than legal action. Child protection officers, employed by social welfare departments, are legally responsible for implementing the stipulations of the Youth (Care and Supervision) Law 1960. In general, the social system views legal intervention as a last resort, after all other means of helping parents adequately care for their children have failed.[8] 

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

 

Original text

 

Statutes

Capacity and Guardianship Law, 5722-1962[9]

חוק הכשרות המשפטית והאפוטרופסות, התשכ"ב 1962

פעולות של קטין

4. פעולה משפטית של קטין טעונה הסכמת נציגו; ההסכמה יכולה להינתן מראש או למפרע לפעולה מסויימת או לסוג מסויים של פעולות. יכול נציגו של קטין לבטל הסכמתו לפעולה כל עוד לא נעשתה הפעולה.

תפקידי ההורים

15. אפוטרופסות ההורים כוללת את החובה והזכות לדאוג לצרכי הקטין, לרבות חינוכו, לימודיו, הכשרתו לעבודה ולמשלח-יד ועבודתו, וכן שמירת נכסיו, ניהולם ופיתוחם; וצמודה לה הרשות להחזיק בקטין ולקבוע את מקום-מגוריו, והסמכות לייצגו.

סמכות כללית לאמצעי שמירה (תיקונים: התש"ל, התשמ"ג)

68. (א) בית-המשפט רשאי, בכל עת, לבקשת היועץ המשפטי לממשלה או בא-כוחו או לבקשת צד מעוניין ואף מיזמתו הוא, לנקוט אמצעים זמניים או קבועים הנראים לו לשמירת עניניו של קטין, של פסול-דין ושל חסוי, אם על ידי מינוי אפוטרופוס זמני או אפוטרופוס-לדין, ואם בדרך אחרת; וכן רשאי בית-המשפט לעשות, אם הקטין, פסול-הדין או החסוי פנה אליו בעצמו.

Youth (Care and Supervision) Law, 5720-1960[10]

חוק הנוער (טיפול והשגחה), התש"ך 1960

מעמדו של קטין המתנגד לאשפוז פסיכיאטרי (תיקון התשנ"ה [מס' 2])

3ו.(א) בהליך לפי סעיף 4א לחוק טיפול בחולי נפש, בענין קטין שמלאו לו חמש עשרה שנים, שאינו מסכים לאשפוזו בבית חולים בידי האחראי עליו, יהיה הקטין משיב.

(ב) בהליך לפי סעיף זה ימנה בית המשפט לקטין עורך דין שייצגו, זולת אם הקטין בחר להיות מיוצג על ידי עורך דין מטעמו.

שמיעת הקטין, האחראי ופקיד הסעד (תיקון התשנ"ה [מס' 2])

8. לא יתן בית משפט החלטה לפי חוק זה אלא לאחר שפקיד סעד הגיש לו תסקיר ולאחר שנתן לקטין, לאחראי עליו ולפקיד הסעד הזדמנות לטעון טענותיהם ולהציע הצעותיהם; על תסקיר כאמור יחולו הוראות חוק הסעד (סדרי דין בעניני קטינים, חולי נפש ונעדרים), התשט"ו-1955, בשינויים המחוייבים לפי הענין.

מינוי אפוטרופוס לדין (תיקון התש"ס)

8ג. בית המשפט הדן בענינו של קטין, רשאי, בכל עת, למנות לקטין אפוטרופוס לדין, או לענינים הנובעים מן ההליך שבפניו, אם מצא כי הדבר דרוש לטובת הקטין ולשם שמירה על עניניו.

 

9. העדר הקטין מבית-המשפט

על אף האמור בסעיף 8, רשאי בית המשפט להימנע מהזמין קטין לפניו, אם הוא סבור שהקטין אינו מסוגל להבין את הענין או שהבאתו עלולה לסכן את שלומו.

 

Family Court Law, 5755-1995[11]

 

חוק בית המשפט לעניני משפחה, התשנ"ה 1995

סמכות בית המשפט לעניני משפחה

3. (א)  עניני משפחה לפי חוק זה יידונו בבית המשפט לעניני משפחה.

(ב) בית המשפט לעניני משפחה יהא מוסמך לדון בתובענה לאכיפה של פסק חוץ בעניני משפחה או להכרה בו.

(ג) כל ענין שלגביו נתונה לבית המשפט לעניני משפחה סמכות לפי חוק זה, גם אישור הסכם בקשר אליו במשמע, אף אם אינה תלויה ועומדת אותה שעה תובענה לגביו, ובית המשפט יהיה רשאי ליתן להסכם תוקף של פסק דין.

(ד)  בענין מעניני המשפחה הנוגע לקטין, רשאי פקיד סעד, באמצעות או באישור היועץ המשפטי לממשלה או בא כוחו, להגיש תובענה לפי חוק זה; וכן רשאי הקטין, בעצמו או על ידי ידיד קרוב, להגיש תובענה כאמור בכל ענין שבו עלולה זכותו להיפגע פגיעה של ממש; לענין סעיף זה, "הגשת תובענה" - לרבות הגשת בקשה במסגרת תובענה שהוגשה על ידי אחר ולרבות הופעה בבית המשפט.

 

Translation

 

Statutes

Capacity and Guardianship Law, 5722-1962[12]

Article 4. Acts of minor

 

Legal acts of a minor require the consent of his representative. Consent may be given in advance or subsequently, for a particular act or for a particular class of acts. The representative may withdraw his consent as long as the act has not been performed.

Article 15. Functions of parents

 

The guardianship of the parents shall include the duty and the right to take care of the needs of the minor, including his education, studies, vocational and occupational training and work, and to preserve, manage and develop his property; it shall also include the right to the custody of the minor, to determine his place of residence and the authority to act on his behalf.

Article 68. General power to take protective measures (1970, 1983 amendments)

 

(a) the court may, at any time, on application of the Attorney-General or his representative or of an interested party or of its own motion, take temporary or permanent measures which seem to it appropriate for protecting the interests of a minor, a legally incompetent person, or a ward, either by appointing a temporary guardian or a guardian ad litem, or otherwise. The court may also do so on application of the minor, the legally incompetent person or the ward himself.

Youth (Care and Supervision) Law, 5720-1960[13]

Article 8. Hearing of minor, person responsible and welfare officer

 

The court shall not give any decision under this Law until a welfare officer has submitted a report to it and until it has given the minor, the person responsible for him and the welfare officer an opportunity to present their arguments and proposals. The provisions of the Welfare (Procedure in Matters of Minors, Mentally Sick Persons and Absent Persons) Law, 5715-1955, shall apply mutates mutandis to a report as aforesaid.

 

Article 8C. Appointment of a guardian ad litem (2000 amendment)[14]

 

A court sitting in the matter of a minor is authorized, at any time, to appoint a legal guardian (guardian ad litem) for the legal proceedings or any matter arising there from, if this will serve the best interests of the minor or protect his interests.

 

9. In the absence of the minor from court

 

Despite what is stated in article 8, the court may avoid summoning the child if it is convinced that he or she cannot understand the matter, or if appearing before the court will endanger the child.

Family Court Law, 5755-1995[15]

Article 3. Authority of the Family Court

 

3. (a) Family matters according to this act will be discussed in the family courts.

 …

(d) In a family mater regarding a minor, the welfare officer is authorized, subject to the approval of the Attorney-General or his representative, or through the Attorney-General or his representative, to file a legal claim according to this act; the minor is authorized, by himself or with the help of a close friend, to file a legal claim as aforesaid, in any matter in which the child's right may be substantially undermined; in this article, “file a legal claim” – including filing a motion in the course of a proceeding filed by another and including performing in court.

 

Case Law

 

Civil Appeal 42/49, Mishka v. Mishka [16]

 

This Supreme Court verdict given in 1949 was the first to state the importance of appointing a guardian ad litem to represent children.

 

Civil Appeal 878/96, Pozilov v. Pozilov [17]

 

The Supreme Court based the authority of courts to appoint a guardian ad litem to represent children in custody proceedings in order to have their best interests protected separately from the parents' interests on article 68(a) to the Capacity and Guardianship Law.

 

HCJ (High Court of Justice) 5227/97, David v. The High Rabbinical Court of Jerusalem [18]

 

According to this decision, in cases where there is a conflict between the child's best interests and the interests of his parents, the child has a right for separate and independent representation.

 

Local Contact Information

 

Adv. Limor Solomon, legal advisor to the National Council for the Child (NCC)

Address: 38 Pierre Koenig St.

Jerusalem 93469, Israel

Tel: +972-2-678-0606

Fax: +972-2-679-0606

Email: ncc@children.org.il

Personal Email: limorsol@gmail.com

www.children.org.il

 

Additional Links and Resources

 

www.children.org.il - National Council for the Child

www.dci.org.il - Defense for Children International (NGO)

www.knesset.gov.il - The Knesset, The Israeli Parliament

http://www.knesset.gov.il/committees/heb/vaada.asp?vaada=25 – The Israeli Parliament (committee for the advancement of the status of the child)

http://www.justice.gov.il/MOJHeb/HavaadLeZhuyot/ - The Public Committee on Children and the Law – in Hebrew

 

 

 

 


Endnotes

[1] This page is available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.  There is additional information on a second page available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[2] Report by the sub-committee on separate representation for children in civil proceedings as part of the Rotlevy Public Committee on Children and the Law (2003) (Hebrew), p. 25, available as .pdf Document.

[3] The Annual report number 52b for the fiscal year of 2000 of The State Comptroller and Ombudsman of Israel criticized the fact that no arrangements were made to inform minors on their right to independently file a claim or to appoint a representative in these proceedings, available at http://www.mevaker.gov.il/serve/showHtml.asp?bookid=235&id=2&frompage=751&contentid=4944&parentcid=4939&direction=-

1&bctype=2&frombutton=0&startpage=24&sw=1024&hw=698.

[4] Civil Appeal 42/49, Mishka v. Mishka, P.D. 3, 88. (ע"א 42/49 משקה נ' משקה, פ"ד ג 88)

[5] Civil Appeal 878/96, Pozilov v. Pozilov, P.D. 50(5), 208. (ע"א 878/96 פוזילוב נ' פוזילוב פ"ד נ(5) 208)

[6] HCJ (High Court of Justice) 5227/97, David v. The High Rabbinical Court of Jerusalem, Takdin vol. 98(3), 443.  (בג"צ 5227/97 דויד נ' בית הדין הרבני הגדול בירושלים, תקדין עליון כרך 98(3) 1998, 443)

[7] Family Court (Tel-Aviv) 2368/96 incognito v. incognito (not published).  (בימ"ש לענייני משפחה (ת"א) 2368/96 פלוני נ' פלוני, טרם פורסם)

[8] Initial Report (2002), U.N. Doc. CRC/C/8/Add.44, paragraph 604, available at here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[9] Capacity and Guardianship Law (1962), available as .pdf Document.

[10] Youth (Care and Supervision) Law (1960), available as .pdf Document.

[11] Family Court Law (1995), available at http://www.knesset.gov.il/laws/heb/FileD.asp?Type=1&SubNum=5&LawNum=1537, and also Israel_family_court_law.

[12] Official translation, published in Laws of the State of Israel, vol.16, 5722-1961/2.

[13] Official translation, published in Laws of the State of Israel, vol.14, 5720-1960. The amendments are not included in the official translation and are unofficial translations by translators provided by the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization.

[14] Initial Report, supra note 7, ¶29.

[15] Unofficial translation by translators provided by the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization.

[16] Civil Appeal 42/49, supra note 3.

[17] Civil Appeal 878/96, supra note 4.

[18] HCJ 5227/97, supra note 5.

 

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