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138 Asylum Seekers Who’ve Been Detained for Over 2 Years Will Be Released

Following HRM Petition to the High Court: 138 Asylum Seekers Who Have Been Detained for More Than Two Years Will Be Released

n the State’s reply to the petition filed in the High Court by Adv. Asaf Weitzen and Adv. Carmel Pomeranz of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants the Ministry of Interior has agreed to release 138 asylum seekers who have been held in detention facilities for more than two years.Over 30 of the individuals being released now are survivors of the torture camps in Sinai.

The 138 asylum seekers entered Israel in the summer of 2012. At the time, they were detained in Saharonim Prison under the 3rd Amendment to the Anti-Infiltration Law which enabled those fitting the criteria of “infiltrators” to be detained for up to three years. They were then supposed to be released after this law was annulled in September 2013. Yet despite the September 2013 directive to free all of those detained in the next three months, some 500 people were not released. They were transferred from Saharonim directly to the Holot detention facility which was established under the 4th Amendment to the Anti-Infiltration Law that was passed in December 2013.

The petitioners participated in the protest march to Jerusalem in December 2013, and launched a hunger strike in solidarity with the strike and protests conducted by asylum seekers in Tel Aviv in January 2014 They had also submitted asylum requests two years ago, with assistance from the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, but most of the requests from Sudanese citizens have not yet been decided. Of the 500 Saharonim detainees that were first brought over to Holot in December 2013 only 200 remain, with the rest having taken the risk to “voluntarily leave” rather than stay in indefinite detention.

Adv. Asaf Weitzen and Adv. Carmel Pomeranz:
“We welcome the decision to release the detainees that were held in the Israel Prison Service facilities for over two years, but at the same time regret the long period of time that passed and the fact that legal procedures were necessary to bring a bit of belated-justice to these people. We hope this is indicative of respect to the High Court verdict which clarified that there is no room for detaining people who cannot be deported without any trial or purpose”.

Yusuf Zakaria, survivor of the Darfur genocide and one of the 138 asylum seekers who has been released:
For so long I’ve watched other people getting released, people who were exactly in my situation or were detained for even less time than I was. I didn’t think this day would ever come, so I am very very happy and relieved, but at the same time I am still afraid. I worry about what will happen next, that I might find myself in prison again. I pray that I will be able to live in peace and I am waiting for a decision on my asylum that was submitted two years ago”