Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty

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Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty is a Basic Law, intended to protect main human rights in Israel.[1] The view of most Supreme Court judges, is that the enactment of this law and of Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation began the Constitutional Revolution, because the Knesset gave these two laws super-legal status, giving the courts the authority to disqualify any law contradicting them. According to this claim (which is not supported by all) these laws marked a substantial change in the status of human rights in Israel.

The law was enacted on the final days of the 12th Knesset, March 17, 1992.[2] Shortly after it was introduced into Israeli constitutional documents, it became prevalent in human rights discourse, as well as in freedom of speech cases.[3]


Prior to the enactment of the Basic Law there was little statutory protection of human rights in Israel. These matters were resolved through the development of common law by Supreme Court cases. The Supreme Court in this period did not have the capacity to invalidate statutes that disproportionately violated human rights. The judgments of the Supreme Court from this period, between Israel's founding in 1948 until the Basic Law was enacted in 1992, "establish the foundation that human rights are part of Israeli law." [4]

Rights protected by Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty[edit]

The rights protected by this law are detailed in several clauses:[5]

  • Section 1: The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and liberty, in order to establish in a Basic Law tile values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
  • Section 2: There shall be no violation of the life, body or dignity of any person as such.
  • Section 3: There shall be no violation of the property of a person.
  • Section 4: All persons are entitled to protection of their life, body and dignity.
  • Section 5: There shall be no deprivation or restriction of the liberty of a person by imprisonment, arrest, extradition or otherwise.
  • Section 6:
    • (a) All persons are free to leave Israel.
    • (b) Every Israeli national has the right of entry into Israel from abroad.
  • Section 7:
    • (a) All persons have the right to privacy and to intimacy.
    • (b) There shall be no entry into the private premises of a person who has not consented thereto.
    • (c) No search shall be conducted on the private premises of a person, nor in the body or personal effects.
    • (d) There shall be no violation of the confidentiality of conversation, or of the writings or records of a person.

However, several cardinal human rights are missing from this document, such as the Right for Equality, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Protest, and others. These rights were given to the residents of Israel by general principles which existed before this Basic Law. Although these rights were not included in the law, some jurists, such as former President of The Supreme Court of Israel Aharon Barak, see these rights are directly derived from the "right to dignity".

Guarantee of super-legal status[edit]

Due to these rights' great importance, the Knesset chose to give this law a high legal status, protected by several means.

Section 8 of this law asserts that "There shall be no violation of rights under this Basic Law except by a law befitting the values of the State of Israel, enacted for a proper purpose, and to an extent no greater than is required, or by regulation enacted by virtue of express authorization in such law." (sentence in italics added in a 1994 amendment to the law). This clause became known as "limiting paragraph", as it limits and restricts the Knesset in legislating laws contradicting this law.

Section 12 defends the law from Emergency Regulations, stating that the government cannot change this Basic Law, and thus cannot weaken the rights it protects, by the emergency regulations it can enact. As written: "This Basic Law cannot be varied, suspended or made subject to conditions by emergency regulations;". However, when a state of emergency is in place, regulations can be enacted that restrict these rights: "notwithstanding, when a state of emergency exists, by virtue of a declaration under section 9 of the Law and Administration Ordinance, 5708-1948, emergency regulations may be enacted by virtue of said section to deny or restrict rights under this Basic Law, provided the denial or restriction shall be for a proper purpose and for a period and extent no greater than is required." Thus, the protection from emergency regulations is not full, and is up to the government and supreme court's judgement.


  1. ^ "The Existing Basic Laws: Summary". Knesset. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "Human Rights Law in Israel". Human rights in Israel. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  3. ^ E. Carmi, Guy. "DIGNITY VERSUS LIBERTY: THE TWO WESTERN CULTURES OF FREE SPEECH" (PDF). Boston University. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Barak, Aharon. "2006". Israel Law Review. 39: 13. 
  5. ^ "Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty". Retrieved 3 January 2014. 

External links[edit]