A new report by Human Rights Watch has found that African asylum seekers have been denied fair and timely asylum procedures and have been unlawfully detained as part the effort to illegally force them to leave Israel. The Human Right Watch report also found that Israel is coercing these asylum seekers into leaving for countries that are dangerous and where their lives are at risk – itself a violation of international law.
Human Rights Watch Finds Israel Violating International Refugee Laws By Forcing African Asylum Seekers To Be Repatriated To Dangerous Countries
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The Government of Israel is illegally coercing thousands Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to leaving Israel – often at great personal risk – a leading international human rights organization claims.
A new report by Human Rights Watch has found that these asylum seekers have been denied fair and timely asylum procedures and have been unlawfully detained as part the effort to illegally force them to leave Israel, the BBC reported. The Human Right Watch report also found that Israel is coercing these asylum seekers into leaving for countries that are dangerous and where their lives are at risk – itself a violation of international law.
The Human Rights Watch reports closely mirrors claims made by Israeli human rights and refugee advocates and by reports in the Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz.
Israel insists its policies on illegal immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees comply with international law.
But it makes that assertion by claiming that the African asylum seekers are not real asylum seekers, despite UN and other international bodies claims to the contrary. Instead, Israel classifies these people as economic migrants and then fails to uphold international agreements and treaties regarding refugees it has signed.
Human Rights Watch says that over the past eight years, the Israeli used various illegal tactics to try to force African asylum seekers to leave, including "indefinite detention, obstacles to accessing Israel's asylum system, the rejection of 99.9% of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum claims, ambiguous policies on being allowed to work, and severely restricted access to healthcare.”
In September 2013, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that a provision of Israel’s anti-infiltration law allowing the government to detain “infiltrators” – almost all of who are considered to be asylum seekers or refugees under international law – indefinitely was illegal.
In response, the right-wing controlled Knesset with the backing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu passed an amendment to the law that established Holot, a special detention tent city in the remote Negev Desert facility to house African asylum seekers who can legally leave the isolated facility every day, but who must return each night in time for curfew and for three assigned daytime checks, meaning these asylum seekers can leave for only several hours at a time. They have no access to cars or other transportation and have to walk a mile or more through the desert to reach the nearest small settlement.
The only way for them to be released from Holot is to be recognized by the government as a refugee – which Israel refuses to do no matter what documentation or proof an asylum seeker has – or leave the country – which Israel openly encourages.
Human Rights Watch and many other observers say Holot violates international law against arbitrary detention.
After internal and international pressure mounted, in February 2013 Israel finally allowed large numbers of Eritreans and Sudanese in the country to file asylum claims.
But after more than a year, the government had only reviewed about 450 out of thousands of "detainee" cases, and Human Rights Watch says almost all of those cases were rejected.
"Destroying people's hope of finding protection by forcing them into a corner and then claiming they are voluntarily leaving Israel is transparently abusive…Eritreans and Sudanese in Israel are left with the choice of living in fear of spending the rest of their days locked up in desert detention centers or of risking detention and abuse back home,” Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the report, reportedly said.