New bill allows gov't to hold 'infiltrators' for three years

Drafters of bill seek to replace existent 1954 law; those caught crossing into Israel can be held without appearing before judge 14 days.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
March 30, 2011 12:26
2 minute read.
Eritrean migrants in Sinai waiting to be smuggled

Eritrean migrants in Sinai 311 (R). (photo credit: Asmaa Waguih / Reuters)

 
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The Knesset began formulating a new law Wednesday stipulating legal treatment of migrant workers and infiltrators found crossing the Israeli border illegally, after an already drafted bill was pulled in July 2010 due to harsh public criticism. The new law would allow the government to remand migrants crossing the border at a non-regulated point for up to three years.    
       
Drafters of the bill seek to replace the 1954 Entry into Israel law, and raise the potential consequences asylum seekers may face if they choose to infiltrate Israel's borders illegally, including detention time, the ability to stand before a judge, and periodic inspections of the remanded by the authorities. The announcement of the new bill comes two days before a Knesset recess without public hearings.

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As opposed to the old bill, the new law does not depend on there being a state of emergency to implement its various conditions.

According to the new bill, asylum seekers and their children who cross over illegally into Israel could be arrested for a period of three years, and not 60 days as the present law stipulates, Army Radio reported.

The new bill also extends the detention time period after which the asylum seeker can appear before a judge from 96 hours to 14 days, and periodic inspection of the remanded will be conducted not once a month according to the Israel Entry law, but rather once every two months.

Migrants found crossing into Israel whose place of origin poses a security threat, such as the Darfur region in Sudan, face more serious detention as well. The new bill stipulates that the asylum seeker, as well as his or her children, can be held in detention without release even under extenuating humanitarian circumstances, and even if the migrant himself was never involved in security operations.

If the bill is passed, it could be possible to imprison asylum seekers for up to five years, and those who aid in the migrant's "infiltration" or provide him or her shelter for up to 15 years.

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Human rights groups Association for Civil Rights and the Hotline for Migrant Workers decried the bill, calling it "draconian," and claiming the bill "eliminates Israel's obligations towards refugees and asylum seekers." The groups added that a "democracy does not offer such a bill, and certainly not...right before a Knesset recess."

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