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Israeli Supreme Court: “Refugees also Deserve a Fair Process”

The Supreme Court criticized yesterday (Wednesday) the current administrative procedure under which asylum seekers are being summoned to the Holot detention facility, where detention is indefinite. The Court offered the State to consider adopting a new process for a test period of three months, during which the Ministry of Interior will hold a hearing for each asylum-seeker before issuing a summon. The Court ordered the State to respond to its suggestion within a week.

The judges heard arguments regarding the administrative petition filed behalf of a Sudanese citizen, survivor of the Darfur genocide, Muatasim Ali, by the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants and other NGOs, after the petition was rejected in the district court.

During the hearing, Adv. Asaf Weitzen of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants described the current situation, in which people are sent for indefinite detention in Holot without any explanation and without a fair hearing. Since the new Anti-Infiltration Law came into force, asylum-seekers are being summoned to Holot with no previous notice, when they come to renew their visas at the Ministry of Interior offices. They don’t have any opportunity to present their personal case or to be represented by an attorney.

The State representative in Court, Adv. Yochi Gnesin, expressed opposition to the Court’s offer, saying that no one will report to the hearing, but the judges dismisses this argument. “There is no separate administrative process for refugees; there is one administrative law for all”, noted Justice Fogelman.

Regarding Ali’s personal issue, the Court ordered the Ministy of Interior to hold a hearing, in which he can be represented by a lawyer and can present his case. Ali has been detained in Holot for three weeks now.

Muatasim Ali: “I am prepared to remain in Holot. I am pleased with the court’s decision because the most important thing is that the administrative procedure for issuing these summonses will change. My case represents everybody”.

Adv. Weitzen: “Holot is no place to send anyone, no matter what the administrative procedure is, and certainly not people like Ali. But in any case, the court’s offer will give people access to legal representation before a decision is made, and allow them to present their case. This would be a reasonable administrative procedure, applied to enforce an unreasonable law. However, it’s a shame that the court didn’t give enough consideration for the people already sent to Holot without this