Weinstein hints African migrants to be moved to 'open' detention centers

Attorney general responds to landmark High Court decision against state's policy of detaining migrants for up to three years pending review.

October 21, 2013 18:46
1 minute read.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein [file]

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein 370 (R). (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)


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Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Monday hinted that the state will place most of the around 2,000 African migrants currently in detention in a new "open" detention center in mid-December, the High Court of Justice's deadline for addressing the migrants status.

The September 16 landmark decision demolished and declared unconstitutional the state's policy of discouraging migrants from illegally coming and staying in Israel by placing them in special detention centers at Saharonim in the South for up to three years pending a review of whether or not they had a right to stay in Israel.

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The decision, which threw the politics of the issue into complete disarray, also ordered the state to review each migrant's status for being able to remain in the country within 90 days or to release them without delay.

Weinstein's open letter came in response to complaints from a number of human rights groups that around a month after the High Court's ruling, almost none of the migrants had been released and that their refugee status was not being reviewed.

In response, the attorney-general said that nine migrants were released on Sunday and that many other migrants' cases were under review.

Weinstein also made indirect reference to ongoing efforts to pass new legislation on the issue, potentially putting a similar policy back in place, but shortening the maximum detention time to one-and-a-half years.

But most importantly, Weinstein referenced one of the High Court's suggested solutions for the issue.


In the court's opinion, it mentioned that other countries confronted by the issue of wanting to discourage unlimited illegal border crossings of migrants, but avoiding violating international law, have established "open" areas where the migrants must reside, but provided them various hours where they can come and go from those residences.

Weinstein said that if such "open" detention centers were ready by the end of the 90 days and if logistically the state was unable to complete its review of all of the migrants' cases in time, they could be placed in open detention-residences.

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