In 2016 Israel still using detention as a means to deport migrants and asylum seekers from its borders
3,000 migrants and asylum seekers are currently being held in prisons in Israel and in the “Holot” facility. Most of the detained migrants are Eritreans and Sudanese whom the Israeli government openly admits that they cannot deport them; many have been detained for months or even years. In 2016, the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants conducted more than 100 interviews with detainees in the four detention facilities for migrants and asylum seekers in Israel – Holot, Saharonim, Givon and Yahalom.
The report indicates very limited living space and overcrowding in cells contrary to Israel Prison Service (IPS) regulations, unsatisfactory translation and medical services, lack of basic hygiene products and persistent pressure from the Immigration Authority to detainees to leave the country.
According to UNHCR guidelines “detention is an exceptional measure and can only be justified for a legitimate purpose”
• The authorities should avoid the detention of migrants and asylum seekers and use more humane and economic means to control immigration
• The authorities should refrain from arresting people who have been tortured and people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental disorders
• Children should not be held in detention facilities except in the case of deportation – with a maximum of only a few hours of detention.
• Under the existing conditions, as long as migrants are held in administrative detention, the density and number of detainees in the cells should be reduced according to the regulations.
• The right of a detainee to file a complaint against a prison guard or inspector who has harmed them must be ensured and their complaint must be investigated by competent authorities.
• Detainees must be made aware of their rights, provided with appropriate translation services, proper hygiene products on a regular and routine basis, and Holot detainees should be allowed to prepare their own food.
• The religion and customs of detainees must be taken into account and they must beallowed freedom of worship.