Judge Suspends Detention Orders of 13 African Asylum Seekers

Court orders state to renew residency permits of Eritreans and Sudanese.

Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior
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Asylum seeker arrives at Holot detention center in January 2014.
Asylum seeker arrives at Holot detention center in January 2014. Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior

A court has frozen orders to report to the Holot detention facility handed to 13 Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers. Judge Dana Marshak Marom of the Central District Court in Lod ruled Sunday that the orders would be suspended until the cases of all the asylum seekers are decided on. The cases will be heard in four months’ time, and until then the judge ordered the Population and Immigration Authority to renew the residency permits that all the asylum seekers held before receiving their detention orders.

It is not yet possible at this stage of the cases to rule out the chances of the asylum seekers to win their appeals for asylum, Marshak Marom ruled. “If the orders and the detention are implemented now, all the [asylum seekers] will be severely harmed while limiting their freedom and uprooting from all that is familiar to them. Instead, if the appeals are denied, even if the present situation is preserved there will be no obstacle to implement and effect the transfer of the [asylum seekers] to the Holot facility at a later date,” wrote the judge.

The court also criticized the Immigration Authority’s policies and methods. The judge cast doubts on the authority’s criteria for ordering detention, in which Sudanese who entered Israel before the end of 2010 and Eritreans who crossed the border before the end of 2008 were ordered to remain in Holot. A week and a half ago the Immigration Authority expanded the criteria.

Marshak Marom said the practical impact of the criteria was that the more “veteran infiltrators” are selected to be detained in Holot, while reasonable criteria would also relate to preventing those who have yet to settle in from doing so, as opposed to detaining those who have been residing in Israel with permission for years.

She also berated the Immigration Authority’s position that it is not required to hold a hearing before ordering them to Holot. “The right to a hearing is one of the principles of natural justice, and especially when we are dealing with a process that is a blow to freedom,” the judge wrote. She also noted that most of the detention orders bore no explanations.

For the next three months the Immigration Authority will conduct a pilot program in which it will invite asylum seekers for a preliminary inquiry – and only after that, if the petitioners’ claims are not accepted, will the authority issue a detention order. This change came at the recommendation of the High Court of Justice in a separate case.

Until now, the asylum seekers received the detention order with no advance notice when they arrived at the Ministry of Interior’s Population Registry offices to renew their temporary residency permits.

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