AG: No hearings, long detention of migrants is legal

Attorney General Weinstein argues to Court that the way Israel is handling migrants does not violate rights, law.

May 15, 2013 05:30
1 minute read.
African migrant walks with suitcase in south TA

African migrant walks with suitcase in south Tel Aviv 370 (R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner )


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Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on late Monday night wrote to the High Court of Justice claiming that the Law to Prevent Infiltration and the state’s policy of placing certain African migrants in detention centers en masse for three years without a hearing does not violate their fundamental rights or international law.

The response by the state was required by a conditional order by the court issued on March 12 in which it demanded that the state defend the controversial law.

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In the his response, Weinstein asked the court to dismiss the petition underlying the case filed against the state by six migrants’ rights organizations, including the Association of Civil Rights for Israel, and on behalf of five Eritrean asylum seekers, including a child, Israel is holding indefinitely in detention camps.

The state argued that the harm to the rights and freedoms of the migrants was for an appropriate purpose, consistent with the values of the state to maintain it as both Jewish and democratic, and was proportional, and not overly draconian.

The response claimed that the detention conditions strike a balance between respecting the migrants’ rights, including with oversight of complaints and abuses, and addressing the complex issue thrust upon the state by the almost sudden explosion of thousands of migrants illegally crossing the border each month in recent years.

The response also elaborates on the harmful impact of illegal immigration on state security and national economic stability.

Aside from the negative picture created by placing large numbers of Africans and their children in detention cells, the policy has also been controversial as most of the migrants claim they are unable to return to their country of origin for fear for their lives. If true, this could grant them the right to stay in Israel under international law.

The state attacked these interpretations of international law as unjustifiably transforming non-binding rules into binding ones and ignoring Israel’s unique problems, including a lack of cooperation from its neighbors in securing its borders.

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