The previous law was struck down by the High Court, which ordered the state to begin releasing the asylum seekers it was indefinitely detaining. Instead, the Knesset passed a law to circumvent the ruling and indefinitely detain asylum seekers in 'open prisons.' By Elizabeth Tsurkov After a passionate debate and a filibuster by opposition members of Knesset, the new amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law passed 30 to 15 early Tuesday morning. The new amendment, hurriedly drafted and passed by the governing coalition, will replace the 2012 amendment to the law, which was nixed by the High Court of Justice…Read More... | 20 Comments
Monday's High Court ruling provided a major blow to the state's attempt to hold asylum seekers in detention. However, despite the decision, asylum seekers are still not entitled to basic benefits such as health insurance, social services, housing and the freedom to work. By Elizabeth Tsurkov Refugees in Israel reacted with delight to the news of the nixing of the Anti-Infiltration Law by the High Court of Justice. Under the law, nearly 1,700 asylum-seekers, most of them Eritreans, are currently detained under the law in either the Saharonim or Ktziot internment camps in the Negev. All asylum seekers who entered Israel…Read More... | 1 Comment
Israel could learn a thing or two from the Kenyan High Court's rebuttal of efforts to lock up asylum seekers. There are judges in Nairobi , and they are more courageous and much more familiar with refugee law than judges in Jerusalem. A Kenyan court last month published a ruling on a government decision to round up asylum seekers from urban areas and put them in refugee camps, from which they will need permits to leave. There are around 600,000 asylum seekers in Kenya. At the end of 2012, the Kenyan government published a new policy saying that asylum seekers…Read More... | 7 Comments
Had the Israeli media paid attention to a protest by Eritrean refugees outside their embassy last week, the public would have learned something valuable about the Eritrean community in Israel: they desperately want a better future for their country so that one day soon, they can go home. By Sigal Rozen Over 200 Eritrean refugees gathered last Friday, despite the rain and a storm, in front of the Eritrean embassy in Ramat Gan to express their support for Eritrean soldiers who rebelled last week and took over the Eritrean Ministry of Information's building in the capital Asmara. For a moment, it…Read More... | 1 Comment
Prepare yourselves. Last May, when it was last announced that an Eritrean citizen raped an Israeli woman, Interior Minister Eli Yishai responded by placing thousands of asylum seekers, among them children, rape and torture victims and the elderly in administrative detention, all in accordance with Israel’s Prevention of Infiltration Law. In the wake of the horrifying rape that took place near Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station, one can only guess what will happen next. Yishai began publishing libelous remarks on his personal Facebook page, while Shas’ shelved hate-filled campaign against foreigners [Hebrew] coincidentally appeared in Yedioth Ahronoth and on Ynet’s homepage,…Read More... | 21 Comments
A new government regulation enables the indefinite incarceration of refugees suspected of committing crimes, even if there is not enough evidence to indict them. Were this regulation applied to Israeli politicians, many of them would be in prison. By Asaf Weitzen The upcoming elections will affect not only the lives of Israeli citizens, they will also affect the fates of more than 60,000 African immigrants living here. Ignorance regarding the circumstances of their arrival to Israel, along with fear and rare bureaucratic creativity, have led to a series of laws and regulations depriving them of their most basic legal protections, which…Read More... | 2 Comments
On Thursday, I traveled to the south with a group of journalists and bloggers to view the construction of new detention facilities around Ketsiot, near the Egyptian border. When completed, the four prisons in the area are meant to be able to hold more than 16,000 inmates, making them, together, the largest detention facility for immigrants in the West. The trip was organized by ASSAF - Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel, with the participation of Physicians for Human Rights, the Hotline for Migrant Workers and Amnesty International. Aid workers and reporters are not allowed into the…Read More... | 11 Comments
After facing brutal treatment at the hands of Sinai smugglers, an Eritrean mother and her baby daughter - who did not intend to go to Israel - have found themselves victim to Israeli policy, despite not having done a thing to deserve such a fate. By Anat Ben-Dor There are things one can do only when no one else is looking. Detaining a baby girl a year and three months old for a period of three years, for instance. We met Ambat* yesterday in Saharonim prison - an active child, she was dressed in red and was held in her mother's…Read More... | 6 Comments
Activists believe the deportation of South Sudanese will most probably not lower the number of African migrants in Israel, and it is also a direct violation of Israel's obligations under international commitments. Israeli authorities have begun arresting dozens of African migrants, as reported by +972's Mya Guarnieri. It is the latest in an effort to crackdown on individuals who over the years have entered the country illegally. The move comes despite a court order that the government allow them one week to turn themselves in voluntarily. The one week period expires on Thursday. The government hopes to deport an unspecified number…Read More... | 8 Comments
Cold winter nights present new humanitarian challenges to homeless asylum seekers. While concerned citizens try to help, there is little they can do against a government explicitly working to make the lives of Israel's refugee population as miserable as possible. South Tel Aviv’s Levinsky Park is home to a steady rotation of some 150 refugees and asylum seekers who spend their nights on its lawns. A typically temperate winter recently made way for an unusually cold stretch, and earlier this week, it was reported that a homeless asylum seeker froze to death in the park. The news had a ripple…Read More... | 4 Comments
Despite loud opposition, the amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law, which passed with a large majority, would detain asylum seekers for three years without trial, or indefinitely if they come from "enemy" countries like Sudan By Elizabeth Tsurkov The Knesset passed on Monday night an amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law, which metes out harsh punishments on Africans seeking refuge in Israel. The law passed the second and third readings in the plenum with a large majority (37-8) following a boisterous discussion. Under the law, refugees would be held for three years in detention without trial or any…Read More... | 14 Comments
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