Israeli Court Orders State to Grant Work Visas to Three Sudanese Asylum Seekers

The three applied for asylum two and a half years ago but have not heard back from the Population, Immigration and Border Authority.

Sudanese migrants protesting in Israel.
Daniel Bar On

The Interior Ministry’s immigration unit has been ordered to issue work visas to three Sudanese nationals from the Darfur region. The three applied for asylum two and a half years ago but have not heard back from the Population, Immigration and Border Authority.

The Jerusalem Appeals Tribunal also ordered the state to pay each man 1,000 shekels (about $250) in damages and warned that it will impose additional costs if their applications are not processed shortly. The ruling came after the state missed two earlier court-imposed deadlines for responding to the asylum petitions.

In his verdict, which was issued early this month, Judge Elad Azar criticized the immigration agency’s conduct in processing asylum requests.

The three asylum seekers turned to the court some 18 months ago, while in the Holot immigrant detention center. In their appeal, filed by attorney Michal Pomerantz, they noted that they first applied for asylum in 2008, through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Soon afterward, responsibility for processing asylum requests passed from the United Nations to the state. They reapplied in January 2014 and were interviewed seven months later but they, like their refugee compatriots from Darfur, have not heard back since then.

All three men fled from Darfur after militias burned their villages and murdered their families. One of the men noted in his appeal that he belongs to an ethnic group that is persecuted by the Sudanese government. “The appellant fled from Darfur due to the war, after the Janjaweed militias burned down the village and murdered his father. He was arrested a number of times and was tortured in prison,” his appeal said.

“Throughout the world people who fled from Darfur are recognized as refugees. In their case, beyond having fled from Darfur each one is also politically active. Not processing their asylum requests prevents them from obtaining refugee status. ... They have no social rights, no medical insurance and above all they don’t have the stability they deserve.”