Detention of Migrants and Asylum Seekers in Israel: Annual report 2021
The Hotline’s seventh annual report monitoring the detention of migrants and asylum seekers in Israel reveals two cases in which migrants testified before the Detention Review Tribunal that they were held in Israel in slavery-like conditions, yet they were deported without any further investigation of their cases.
A migrant worker from Moldova who arrived in Israel in April 2011 as a caregiver. On June 7, 2021, a detention order was issued in her case, and the next day, a deportation order. During the Detention Review Tribunal hearing, she stated that “she served them [the employers] for ten years without being paid even a single shekel. They charged money from her for the right to stay in Israel…” she was deported to her country of origin within the same month, without her testimony being examined by authorities.
A migrant from Thailand who arrived in Israel to work in agriculture was caught working in a restaurant. According to him, he worked there as a volunteer without pay, and was promised to later receive paid work in agriculture.
No legal actions were taken against the abusive employers in both cases. By looking away from these testimonies the adjucators assisted in the deportation of people who might be crime victims.
The report also reveals that during 2021 migrants were held for months in detention due to Covid-related difficulties in arranging flights.
the most egregious case is that of a migrant caregiver from Sri Lanka who was detained for illegal residency and was issued a detention order on June 1, 2021. During the first hearing, she informed the adjudicator that she has a flight ticket to her country of origin, and is asking to depart Israel as soon as possible, a fact she repeated in all hearings concerning her case. “I want to return home and I have a flight ticket for July 20, 2021, and I can change it and move the date earlier. The Immigration [Authority] did not tell me when is my [earlier] flight [possible] and I want to return quickly… I can see if I can move the flight and leave earlier. I told the Immigration that I can leave on June 21, 2021, and they did not provide any response.” Only on July 29, 2021, was she able to board a flight back to her country, after a ticket on an earlier flight was canceled due to miscommunication with the airline. This means that the detainee stayed in detention for two entirely unnecessary months, despite asking to return to her country or origin as soon as possible, and even purchased a flight ticket at her expense, and sought to use it immediately.