Israel's Attorney General Approves Deportation of African Asylum Seekers

Despite the objections of rights NGOs, Eritreans and Sudanese to be sent to Uganda, Rwanda.

Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Wednesday approved the deportation of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to two African countries, based on the Foreign Ministry’s assertion that their lives are not in danger in these countries.

The prime minister’s special envoy on refugee issues Hagai Hadas joined this position, enabling the asylum seekers to be deported to Uganda and Rwanda.

Haaretz has learned that Weinstein wanted to verify that six clauses would be upheld before approving the deportation: that no war or riots were taking place in Uganda and Rwanda; that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has issued no opinion that refugees were not to be sent to these states; that there was no danger in these states to the life or liberty of a Sudanese or Eritrean on the basis of race, religion, nationality or belonging to a social or political group; that it was possible to file for asylum or receive temporary protection and these states will not deport the refugees to another state where their life or liberty would be at risk; that these states prohibit torture or brutal and humiliating behavior; and that they undertake to allow the refugees to live in dignity and make a living.

The Foreign Ministry and Hadas confirmed to Weinstein that these conditions are upheld in Rwanda and Uganda, despite a report published by human rights organizations about a month ago to the contrary.

Following the release of the report, which exposed serious faults in the “voluntary leaving” process, Weinstein again asked the Foreign Ministry and Hadas to make sure their position hadn’t changed. The report corroborated Haaretz’s findings of a year ago, saying the refugees who left Israel for Rwanda and Uganda have no legal status and receive no basic rights in these countries.

The refugees “have no legal status or rights and therefore cannot survive in these states,” the report said. “Hence, even those who are not arrested or deported leave these states to become refugees again.”