Israeli law targets asylum-seekers
Sarah Sheffer <http://bikyamasr.com/author/admin-2/
> | 12 January 2012 | 0
CAIRO: A new "Prevention of Infiltration Law" was passed in the Israeli
parliament on Tuesday morning, allowing the automatic and prolonged
detention of anyone who enters Israel without permission.
Failing to differentiate between migrants facing deportation and
asylum-seeking persons, the new law was catered specifically to target
asylum-seekers entering the Israeli state from the Egyptian border.
Once arrested, detainees can now be held without charge or trial for three
or more years. The law also allows for the indefinite detention of any
person from a country considered "hostile" to Israel, including Sudan.
Children travelling with their parents are also unconditionally subjected to
the new law.
Human rights group Amnesty International called the move an "affront to
international law," in a press release published Wednesday.
"Passing and implementing this law flies in the face of Israel's obligations
under the 1951 Refugee Convention and other international human rights
instruments," said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International's Interim Deputy
Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
"Israel has the right to protect its borders, but it does not have the right
to abandon its international human rights obligations to asylum-seekers,
refugees and migrants, or to criminalize them as 'infiltrators,' which only
fuels xenophobia and discrimination," she continued.
According to the 1951 Convention, a refugee, or someone who has fled their
country for a well-founded reason, cannot be deported from the country to
which he or she escapes and must be granted basic rights.
However, in essence, the new law contradicts this obligation, allowing
refugees to be treated as criminals merely by the virtue of their situation.
Observers expect legal challenges to the law to emerge, though it was passed
with a vote of 37 to 8.
Asylum-seekers from Eritrea and Sudan often make the trip through Egypt to
Israel, though the journey has become more perilous as reports of attacks in
the Sinai peninsula are on the rise.
The new law is meant to further deter people from attempting to enter
Currently, asylum-seekers caught crossing the border are detained for a few
weeks before being released.
Amnesty International also reported that Israel has an immigration detention
center planned that will be able to hold 10,000 detainees, making it the
largest such facility globally.
"Israel should deal with asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants in keeping
with its stated values and obligations. It should abandon plans to build
more immigration detention facilities," urged Harrison of Amnesty
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Received on Thu Jan 12 2012 - 16:46:26 EST