Rights Groups Petition Against Amended Law Allowing Detention of Migrants Without Trial

Government's circumvention of previous ruling has led to a worse conditions for African migrants, petition to High Court says.

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

Human rights groups petitioned the High Court of Justice on Sunday hoping to block the new amendment to the anti-infiltration law.

After the court struck the original as unreasonably harsh on African migrants, the government tried to soften the law. Activists, however, are now decrying the new draft as worse than the first.

Their petition argues that the new formulation of the anti-infiltration law “castrates” the principles laid out of the court’s last ruling.

The groups also asked the court to issue an interim injunction suspending any further transfer of migrants to the Holot detention facility in the Negev.

Instead of seeking “humane solutions for the asylum seekers” the government only acted to "delay as much as possible the release of those supposed to be freed according to the decision, and approve lightning-swift legislation,” the petition reads.

The amendment, human rights groups say, is meant to allow imprisoning migrant who escape criteria that allows for expulsion from Israel.

“The amendment authorizes the state to detain those who cannot be deported at a ‘detention center’ for an unlimited time, with no release conditions and no active judicial review,” the petition reads. “The ‘detention center’ is managed by the Israel Prison Service, and is no different from a prison. It is a prison meant to break their spirit, in order to force them to ‘agree' to go wherever they are told, even if their lives are at risk there.”

By building the detention facility years ago without using it, the government showed it had anticipated the court might curb legislation on the matter, human rights groups say.

Asylum seekers wait outside Saharonim prison for the bus to take them to the Holot facility. Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

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