Advocacy Group: Israel Cynically Exploited Ruling Meant to Free Migrants

In light of invalidation of law allowing migrants to be jailed for up to three years, the state is rethinking its position in case of one jailed asylum seeker. Meanwhile, the woman remains behind bars.

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An advocacy group this week accused the state of cynically exploiting a recent High Court ruling meant to free migrants from incarceration in order to hold one particular migrant even longer.

The migrant in question is a 21-year-old Eritrean asylum seeker who was tortured and raped on her way through the Sinai Peninsula. Since reaching Israel 16 months ago, she has been jailed under a law permitting illegal migrants to be held in custody for up to three years.

After a custody tribunal rejected her petition for release on humanitarian grounds in July, the Hotline for Migrant Workers appealed to the Supreme Court. But two weeks before her scheduled court hearing on September 29, the High Court of Justice invalidated the amendment to the Anti-Infiltration Law that allowed for migrants to be incarcerated for up to three years.

In response, the state asked the court to postpone the scheduled hearing by at least another month so it could revise its position in light of the ruling on the law. The Hotline countered that the woman should be freed immediately, saying that the state cynically exploited the ruling to keep her behind bars for another month. It’s inconceivable, it argued, that a ruling meant to free migrants like her should instead become an excuse to extend her stay in prison.

The court held the hearing as scheduled on Sunday, but agreed to give the state 30 days to reconsider its position in light of the court’s ruling on the law. Meanwhile, the woman remains behind bars.

The Interior Ministry said in response that the woman hasn’t been recognized as a victim of human trafficking, and that it is awaiting the court’s ruling on her appeal.

African migrants held in Saharonim detention facility.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

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