Court Voids Israeli Order to Detain African Asylum Seeker

The Be’er Sheva District Court also tells the government to renew the Eritrean man's work visa.

Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior
The Holot migrant detention facility, September 22, 2014.
The Holot migrant detention facility, September 22, 2014.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior

The Be'er Sheva District Court on Tuesday voided a summons ordering an Eritrean asylum seeker to report to the Holot detention center and criticized the government for not canceling such summonses following the High Court’s order last month to close the facility.

“Enforcing the reporting of infiltrators who have not yet reported to the Holot facility ignores the High Court of Justice’s critical ruling on this matter,” Judge Rachel Barkai of the Be’er Sheva District Court wrote in her decision, adding that the government was ignoring the High Court’s remarks on human rights.

The asylum seeker had been ordered to report to Holot in July but never did, claiming that the summons was arbitrary, discriminatory, unreasonable and disproportionate. In August the court rejected his request for a restraining order that would freeze the summons until his appeal was decided, but he still refused to report.

Before his appeal was heard, the High Court struck down the amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law that provided for the operation of Holot and ordered it closed within 90 days.

After the High Court’s decision, the state asked the Be’er Sheva court to delay its hearing of the Eritrean’s appeal so it could study the ruling, noting that it would not enforce summonses to Holot. But the appellant’s lawyer, Rozi Namer, asked the court to order the state to cancel the summons and renew the Eritrean’s visa so he could work.

The state refused to do either. As a result, the court Tuesday ruled in favor of the Eritrean, ordering the state to both cancel the summons and issue a temporary work visa.

“I believe that under the circumstances in which the Supreme Court struck down Amendment No. 4 to the law and said its piece on its harm to human rights ... there is no reason to continue ordering infiltrators to report to Holot,” Barkai wrote.

But the state’s nonenforcement of summonses was not enough, she added.

“The state’s defensive position on the infiltrator issue is totally unclear, so it’s about time to craft a worthy and respectable policy on the issue,” Barkai wrote. “These infiltrators’ immediate need for earnings to sustain themselves must be addressed, because in the absence of a solution ... they become a burden on society.”

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