African migrants walk in front of the entrance to Holot open detention center in the Negev .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The state this week gave in to pressure from an NGO to release 138 illegal migrants who had been detained since summer 2012 rather than try to fight a petition to the High Court of Justice.
The migrants lawyers Assaf Vitzan and Carmel Pomerance said it had taken the state too long to release the 138, but hoped that “the decision shows that the High Court’s decision [on migrants] has been internalized, in which it was made clear” that the state should “not imprison with no purpose and no legal proceeding people that it cannot deport.”
On October 26, the NGO, the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, filed the petition with the court asking that the 138 migrants be immediately released from the Holot open detention center in the Negev.
They are part of a specific group who have been in detention either in Holot or in the closed Saharonim detention center since summer 2012.
The NGO had hoped that the petition had a chance even though the Knesset is presently considering legislation to address the migrants issue, and the court usually refrains from getting involved with an issue presently before the legislature.
The Knesset is exploring legislation following the High Court’s striking down of the government’s migrant policies as unconstitutional both in September 2013 and again, after the policy had been modified, in September 2014.
The argument the NGO made was that even if the Knesset passes a law that might permit holding some migrants in detention, as the past two laws did, the 138 migrants have been in detention so long that even the maximum detainment of three years in the struck-down 2013 policy would expire later this year.