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ACRI annual report slams human rights problems with Israeli Arabs, migrants
By YONAH JEREMY BOB
09/12/2013
Examples of issues included: rolling back subsidies, cutting off the supply of water to needy, elimination of public housing.
 
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) released its annual report reviewing the major trends in the human rights situation for 2013, on Sunday.

Leading into international Human Rights Day on December 10, ACRI published its report noting problems with treatment of weaker sectors of society, discrimination against Israeli Arabs, African migrants’ rights and protesters’ rights (being harmed by police).

The report especially highlighted what it called new violations of social rights, especially of weaker societal sectors.

Examples given by the report of such violations, included: rolling back subsidies for young children and the elderly, cutting off the supply of water to people who could not afford timely payment and the elimination of public housing.

Generally, it said that the state also failed to meet any goal of treating the weaker sectors with dignity, as required constitutionally, partially due to a failure to define even minimum concrete benchmarks in order to achieve that goal.

The report also notes a rise in racist attacks against Israeli-Arabs and discrimination in the workplace, in particular in the banking sector.

ACRI said that many laws entertaining and currently being evaluated by the Knesset will only exacerbate discrimination against Israeli Arabs.

The report blasted what it called the state’s attempt to circumvent the High Court of Justice’s mid-September ruling, striking down an unconstitutional state policy for abusing migrants’ rights, by passing a new law in the Knesset that will still contain aspects of the same policy that was struck down.

ACRI specifically mentioned the proposed bill’s placing new migrants, illegally crossing the border, in detention for one year, and placing migrants already present in an “open” detention center in the middle of the desert for an indefinite period.

The report also recounted the state’s sending 24 Eritreans back to Eritrea on a “voluntary” basis in July before the High Court had ruled, and where the circumstances of being in detention and feeling under threat precluded any real voluntary decision.

This clearly violated the Eritreans rights and endangered their lives, said the report.

ACRI CEO Hagai Elad said, “The annual report is a reminder of how much more work there is to do to improve the defense of the rights of the sons and daughters of Israel.”

He said, “But with our joint efforts, we hold in our hands the power to change the situation, not only to be those who raise [attention] to harming rights, but also to be the generators of change.”
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