Judge Slams Interior Min. on Deportations

'The Interior Ministry's conduct grossly violated its obligations,' the Tel Aviv District Court wrote in its verdict in a case of human trafficking from Eritrea, after the ministry decided that the asylum-seeker lied about his nationality and therefore eligible for deportation.

A recent legal ruling harshly criticized the Interior Ministry for deporting migrants without examining their documents.

"The Interior Ministry's conduct grossly violated its obligations as the agency responsible for determining the nationality" of asylum-seekers, the Tel Aviv District Court wrote in its verdict.

The case involved a victim of human trafficking from Eritrea. Israel's policy is that Eritreans are entitled to collective protection and therefore cannot be deported. But the ministry decided the man was lying about his nationality, that he was actually Ethiopian and therefore eligible for deportation.

Judge Esther Covo found that the ministry had failed to examine documents the man had said would prove he was Eritrean, even after being rebuked for this by a custody tribunal. "It's unacceptable for the Interior Ministry to disobey a custody tribunal ruling and decide of its own accord not to examine certain documents," she wrote.

As for the ministry's claim that it did not need to see the documents because it had conducted an extensive oral interview with the man, this was "a failure of basic logic," Covo said.

"The Interior Ministry cast doubt on the petitioner's credibility for irrational reasons that did not match the evidence," the judge continued. As one example, she cited the ministry's assertion that the man could not be Eritrean because he referred to a "government building" as a "government ministry." Similarly, Covo said, "The petitioner was able to give the names of 12 neighborhoods in Asmara, Eritrea's capital, but the Interior Ministry chose to note instead that he erred in naming two neighborhoods."

Nor, Covo stressed, is such behavior unusual: "This isn't the first time the Interior Ministry has claimed the presented documents were forged, but did nothing to gather relevant evidence." She ordered the ministry to release the man from jail, refrain from deporting him and pay him NIS 25,000 for legal costs.