Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein's decision to ban the deportation of Eritrean nationals in Israeli custody does not apply to migrants from Sudan, according to a letter by Deputy Attorney General Dina Silber obtained by Haaretz.
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Authorities in Sudan, an enemy of Israel and human rights violator, have warned that Sudanese who reside in Israel face punishment upon return.
Silber is also the signatory to a previous letter instructing the head of the Population and Immigration Authority, Amnon Ben-Ami, not to allow Eritreans out of Israeli jails “to any destination outside Israel.” In the new letter, Silber clarified that the instruction does not apply to Sudanese, thus allowing their deportation.
In the new letter, written in response to a query from a group called the Combat Genocide Association, she wrote: “The matter of the citizens of ... Sudan differs, factually and legally, from the matter of the Eritreans.” Combat Genocide was inquiring whether the attorney general’s directive regarding Eritreans also applied to Sudanese, including asylum-seekers from Darfur.
Silber further states in the letter that the citizens of Sudan “do not receive collective protection from deportation.” Because the state has extended collective protection to both groups, it had not even allowed individuals from these two countries to submit individual requests for asylum.
Although officially no citizens from Sudan or Eritrea are deported, since a new law was passed to prevent illegal entry, they can be arrested and held for unlimited periods.
The previous interior minister, MK Eli Yishai (Shas), said recently that at least 2,000 Sudanese had “voluntarily left” Israel, including from Israeli jails, as had dozens of Eritreans. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees does not recognize repatriation from Israeli jails as voluntary.
The head of the Combat Genocide Association, Pesach Houspeter, said the state had promised to give a month’s notice before lifting collective protection or deporting asylum-seekers, but “has done precisely the opposite. It is deporting people from jail to a place where they could once again be persecuted. The fact that the AG supports this is nothing less than horrifying. If the State of Israel has really sent refugees of genocide to their deaths, it means nothing less than a mark of Cain.”
Following Silber’s letter, Yonatan Berman of the Clinic for Immigrants’ Rights and Oded Feller of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel asked Weinstein for clarifications. They wrote Weinstein that “in the past Ben-Ami had denied that he had conveyed information that was not true. But today ... it seems that the authorities are once more conveying untruthful information, this time though the deputy AG.”