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Human rights Organizations Call on Ministers Not to Promote the New Amendment of the Anti-infiltration Law “Another law that will not stand the test of the Supreme Court – nor assist South Tel Aviv”

Human rights organizations filed their comments today (Sunday 12/20) about the new amendments to the state’s Anti-Infiltration Law; they also called on ministers to oppose the new proposed edition. The organizations have made it clear, that for the fourth time, that the state has continued to ignore the Supreme Court’s rulings, offering no path to those trying to receive asylum status, and promoting a policy that doesn’t help South Tel Aviv.

The organizations state their opposition to the new adaptation of the law, and instead call on the government to promote alternative solutions that would fulfill Israel’s obligations, and allow for the dispersal of asylum seekers, reducing congestion in neighborhoods (such as South Tel Aviv). Included in these solutions are: examining asylum applications and making decisions according to international standard practices, promoting initiatives to encourage employment across the country by providing legal work permits, instead of the continued practice of recruiting migrant workers, as well as granting access to health care and welfare. It is also recommended that the state take funds currently invested in maintaining detention facilities, and use them to benefit all members of neighborhoods where asylum-seekers currently live.

The organizations also warn about the serious violations of the rights of asylum-seekers that will be deepened by this new proposal, many of which undermine previous rulings of the Supreme Court, effectively deleting them retroactively. The organizations stress that within the proposed changes, there are no parts which ease the difficulty for asylum-seekers, only more stringent and aggressive directives.

First, the memo extends the period of detention for longer than the current maximum amount of time that was already determined by the court (18 months vs. 12 months which the court ruled on). This is coming slightly more than 2 months after it had been declared unconstitutional. The organizations note “the determination of extending imprisonment to 1.5 times the maximum period permitted by the court… is brazen defiance of the court, if not complete contempt”. It is further understood with the new law that the detention to those who enter Israel after the law, will take into effect an added three months during which asylum-seekers will be in the Holot detention facility. In other words, a cumulative 21 month sentence in the Israel Prison Service. Finally, the memo did not give any details to what were called “special reasons” that may be used to extend someone’s detention by additional six-months. Thus, even those who have been released recently might find themselves sent back in the future.

Second, the memo eliminates the exemption that prevents the fathers of minor-children from being sent to Holot. Beyond the serious violation that this causes to Right to Family and Marriage, it is also in conflict with international law. The organizations stress that the Court rejected (among other reasons) the initial organization of Holot, because it didn’t differentiate between populations with different needs and conditions.
The organizations further noted that stricter punitive sanctions and extending the period of imprisonment for failure to report ignores the previous criticisms of the court. In addition, the organizations stress that there is absolutely no standing to impose limits on judicial discretion in providing temporary injunctions as part of appeal against administrative detention.

It is further stressed that the new additions do not in any way address the rights that should exist when an asylum-seekers is held in custody, and is “silent on issues of dignity in detention…as there is nothing mentioned in any of the provisions about entitlement to legal aid in appropriate cases, nor comments on the harsh living conditions in detention, the total lack of privacy, the inability to leave Holot more than a few times a month, the regimentation of life by the Prison Service guards, and the terrible food provided”.

In addition, the memorandum does not include reference to the fate of people who are “veterans” of Holot – those who in the past had their lives torn from them by being sent to detention, and are now forced to build their lives from scratch, without formal work permits, without medical coverage or access to social services and housing. Thus, they have no choice but to rely on the charity of their own community and services, which only deepens misery in which they live.

In light of this, the organizations demand that these amendments, which contradict earlier Supreme Court rulings, do not continue forward. And instead to implement solutions listed above- that will benefit both asylum-seekers and the rest of the Israeli public.