Immigration Detention in Israel Annual Monitoring Report – 2018
The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants’ new report reveals the reality of mothers and children in administrative immigration detention.
The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants’ annual detention monitoring report reveals an increase in the number of mothers detained alongside their children, lack of access to the asylum system in the prisons and in Yahalom Detention Facility, and testimony about severe abuse by the Population Authority inspectors.
Although many studies show that incarceration of children, even if only for a short period of time, is detrimental to their psychological and physical well-being, the State of Israel continues to imprison children in administrative immigration detention in order to deport them together with their parents. This goes against the warnings of the Israel Prison Service’s own officers, who publicly state that prison is not suitable for children and that they do not belong there.
The report reveals serious flaws in the procedure for treatment of those denied entry to Israel at Ben Gurion Airport, who are held in Yahalom Airport Detention Facility, which is run by the Population Authority. A group of Sri Lankan asylum seekers landed in Israel in October 2018 fleeing prosecution due to threats and severe violence suffered at the hands of their political rivals at home. Although they expressed a desire to file asylum applications, they were denied this right by the authority, based on the argument that that would be deported immediately regardless of asylum applications. Thus, the group was held at Yahalom without access to the Israeli asylum system until the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants intervened. Even after their asylum requests were submitted and they were transferred from the Yahalom facility to Givon Prison, they were still not allowed contact with the outside world.
During the course of 2018, the Hotline collected many testimonies about violence by the Population Authority inspectors: kicking detainees’ backs, severely beating their ribs, strangling them, and significant mental and verbal abuse. The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants has repeatedly demanded that the Population Authority investigate these cases and take action against the perpetrators of violence; however, the appeals never received a response.
Dr. Ayelet Oz, Executive Director of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants remarked: “This year, too, the report discloses the reality that the Population Authority is attempting to hide from the public eye. The data gathered indicates that Population Authority inspectors feel that they can treat migrants and refugees with severe violence, prevent access to the asylum system in complete contravention of the Refugee Convention, and imprison families behind bars without examining suitable alternatives, only because the group in question is vulnerable and does not wield political power. We hope that these grave matters will receive the attention they deserve and that the authorities will remember that, as they recently declared in a governmental campaign: every person is a human being.”