The purpose of the Department is to examine exceptional incidents or complaints of misconduct by members of the Israel Security Agency (formerly the General Security Service) in the course of the interrogations that are conducted by them, and the provision of recommendations with respect to the appropriate means that should be taken as a consequence of these examinations, in other words – dealing with the most sensitive issues that are faced by the Israel Security Agency in particular, and by the State of Israel in general.
To put it simply, the Department may be deemed to be the equivalent of the Department for the Investigation of Police Personnel, even though its powers are with respect to complaints or incidents that pertain to the direct interface between the members of the Israel Security Agency and the suspects under interrogation (in other words, the examination of the conduct of the interrogators of the Israel Security Agency or the coordinators of the Israel Security Agency or any other person, insofar as the matters pertain to an act that they have performed which is similar, in essence, to an investigation (such as the preliminary questioning in the field, at the time that the arrest is made)).
As far as the criminal procedure is concerned, the Department’s work is focused on the meeting point between the preliminary examination proceeding and the decision as to whether to open a criminal investigation: on the one hand, the Department does not conduct a "criminal" investigation, but rather, it collects evidence and it formulates recommendations with respect to the examination of the conduct of the investigators, the recommendations are brought for the determination of the Attorney General and of the State Prosecutor (and of the most senior state prosecutor on their behalf, who is the professional contact person for the files of the Comptroller of Complaints Filed by Suspects Under Interrogation). On the other hand, the examination (or inquiry) proceedings strongly resemble investigation proceedings (including the collection of testimonies, the seizure of documents, and so on and so forth), and as a consequence thereof, a criminal investigation may be opened and/or command measures may be taken and/or disciplinary measures may be applied, as well as system-wide measures (such as the honing of procedures, modifications, and so on and so forth).
The Department was set up in 1992, by virtue of a government decision, and based on the desire to found a dedicated entity that would provide a response to the complaints of people who have been interrogated by the Israel Security Agency, and who believe that their interrogators acted in contravention of the law or in an inappropriate manner. Initially, the Inspector was a member of the Israel Security Agency, from an administrative point of view, however, in order to guarantee that his examination would be independent and fair, the Inspector was subordinated, professionally, solely to the "Supervisor of the Complaints Filed by Suspects Under Interrogation,” who was a senior state attorney in the State Attorney's Office, and he was also subordinated, professionally, to the State Attorney and to the Attorney General, and they alone were able to instruct him, from a professional point of view, and to give him directions at the professional level. The Directors of the Inspector at the State Attorney's Office were required to decide, based on the findings of the examination, as to whether a criminal investigation would be opened in the matter, or not.
As a rule, an employee of the Israel Security Agency was appointed to the position of the Inspector, and this was the final position that he held in the Israel Security Agency, so as to guarantee that he would act independently.
Notwithstanding these precautions, over the years, criticism has been made of the fact that the Inspector is an employee of the Israel Security Agency, and concern has been voiced that this could impair his independence and his professional judgment, or at the very least, there is a significant defect in the structure in which it is a member of the Israel Security Agency who is examining complaints against his very own colleagues. In view of this criticism, from both within and without, and following comprehensive deliberations, the Attorney General decided, with the approval of the State Attorney, the head of the Israel Security Agency and the Director-General of the Ministry of Justice, to transfer the position of the Inspector from the Israel Security Agency to the Ministry of Justice, so that the Inspector would henceforth be an employee of the Ministry of Justice, who would be appointed by way of the usual proceedings for the appointment of employees in the civil service.
Commencing from 2014, the Inspector's Department has operated as a unit within the Ministry of Justice (which is subject, from an administrative point of view, to the Director-General of the Ministry of Justice, and professionally is instructed by the State Attorney's Office and the Attorney General), and the employees of the Department – including the director who heads the Department – are employees of the Ministry of Justice.
In November 2017, the Inspector was also authorized to investigate suspicions of criminal offenses, that have been committed by members of the Department of the Investigations of Police Personnel, and that pertain to the performance of their position, and also to investigate any complaint that has been filed against members of the Department of the Investigation of Police Personnel, even if the complaint does not pertain to the performance of their position, in the event that the complainant is a police officer or someone on his/her behalf.
Since it was transferred to the Ministry of Justice in 2014, the Department has been headed by Attorney Jana Modzgvrishvily. Prior to this position, Adv. Modzgvrishvily served in a diverse range of positions at the Military Advocate General’s Office, and she also served for several years as a military judge; in her last position in the IDF, she served as the Chief Military Prosecutor for four years, until she retired from the IDF, holding the rank of Colonel, and she then joined the Ministry of Justice as the head of the Inspector for Complaints Against the Israel Security Agency (ISA) Department.