Court Orders Release of Nigerian Woman, Israeli-born Son Detained Ahead of Deportation

Authorities' concern that the mother might refuse to leave Israel does not justify the detention of her minor son, judge rules

Christina and and her son Favour Blessing released from custody, December 1, 2019.

An Israeli court ordered on Sunday the release of an Israeli-born 8-year-old boy and his mother, a Nigerian national, who were arrested ahead of their deportation, while harshly criticizing the Interior Ministry for their handling of the case.

Christina Blessing and her son Favour were arrested Thursday at the Population and Immigration Authority offices in Beit Dagan, where they arrived to hear the decision on their case. The two were held at the Givon prison in Ramla since.

Custody tribunal Judge Raja Marzouk said that the concern that Christina might refuse to leave Israel does not justify the detention of her minor son.

Moreover, Marzouk rejected the Interior Ministry’s request to delay the release by 24 hours so that it could appeal the ruling and ordered the two released immediately. The judge added that “The decision to return [Christina and her son] to custody isn’t reasonable or proportionate and violates the detainees’ right to liberty.

"The detainee's intention to appeal the decision [to deport her and her son within 21 days] doesn't indicate she would violate the condition set for her release from custody," the judge added.  

Blessing and her son, who live in Tel Aviv, were first arrested three weeks ago and held in detention for six days, after which they were released on a 30,000 shekel ($8,600) bail.

A post protesting the arrest of Israeli-born Favour BlessingUCI United Children of Israel / Facebook

The Blessings were arrested because Christina refused to promise she would leave Israel within 21 days, as the authority had demanded.

Christina's attorney, Michal Pomerantz, argued that the mother had been given a biased and invalid hearing, since she had not violated the conditions of her earlier release. According to the lawyer, Christina hadn’t actually refused to leave, but merely said she would appeal the decision.

“The rearrest of Blessing and her 8-year-old son is nothing less than emotional abuse. It's sheer cruelty,” said Pomerantz.

"The Interior Ministry's interpretation of Christina's intention to appeal its decision as a declaration of intent to violate her release conditions shows the lack of good faith,” the attorney added.

Blessing entered Israel in 2008 on a tourist visa and then applied for asylum, but her application was rejected in 2010. In January 2015 her request to receive residency on humanitarian medical grounds was also rejected. Favour's father, also a Nigerian national, currently lives in Dubai.