State promises Sudanese refugees the right to independent hearing

Change means that refugees' cases will be periodically reviewed by an independent official.

Sudanese refugees 88 (photo credit: )
Sudanese refugees 88
(photo credit: )
Sudanese refugees will, from now on, be treated in accordance with the Entry into Israel Law - and no longer according to the Prevention of Infiltration Law - the state informed the High Court of Justice on Wednesday. The change means that the refugees' cases will be periodically reviewed by an independent official. The state's response, which also spelled out the arrangements for returning refugees to Egypt in coordination with Egyptian authorities, was filed in response to four petitions by Sudanese held in jail, and the Hot Line for Migrant Workers, against the state's policy up until now of holding the refugees according to the 1954 Prevention of Infiltration Law. If, for whatever reason, the "infiltrator," as the state refers to the Sudanese refugees, is not returned to Egypt, "[the authorities] will treat them according to the legal and administrative instructions contained in the 1952 Citizenship Law and in keeping with the system of review in their holding places that the law sets forth," the state informed the court on Wednesday. "It should be made clear that the [government] has not changed its mind, particularly regarding its right to apply, to a reasonable and proportional degree, the law against infiltration. The [government's] decision to [apply the Entry Into Israel Law] is for the time being because of the broad increase of the phenomenon of infiltrating into Israel via the border with Israel." According to the Entry into Israel Law, an illegal sojourner who has been arrested must,within four days, be brought before an independent, quasi-judicial court. There, he is given the opportunity to plead his case. If the court decides to expel him, he is sent to a holding place until the expulsion order is executed. If there is a delay in the execution of the expulsion order, the sojourner must be brought before the court once a month for a review of his case. This is in contrast to the Prevention of Infiltration Law, according to which the detainee never has the opportunity to explain why he has entered the country. According to the harsher law, as soon as such a person is picked up by the army, he is sent to jail while the defense minister issues an expulsion order. The infiltrator waits in jail until the order is executed, without any independent review of his case at any time. The state explained to the court the new procedures for dealing with Sudanese refugees who cross the Sinai desert into Israel. "Infiltrators from Sudan will be interrogated by the IDF in the area adjacent to where they crossed the border and were caught," the state wrote. "If the army suspects that the infiltrator is involved in terrorist activity or poses some other security threat, he will be handed over for continued processing in accordance with the circumstances. If the interrogation does not indicate terrorist activity or other security threats, the infiltrator will be returned to Egypt via the border crossings as coordinated with Egypt and in accordance with the diplomatic agreement between the two countries, whereby Egypt promises to guarantee their lives and safety." If there is no coordinated return to Egypt, the state continued, the "infiltrator" will be held according to the Entry into Israel Law. Yonatan Berman, the attorney representing the Hot Line for Migrant Workers, said his organization opposed detaining anyone arrested for crossing the border, even those suspected of terrorism or other security threats, without the right to independent review. He also told The Jerusalem Post that his organization would likely petition the High Court against the state's intention of returning refugees to Egypt and of holding them in a holding center near Ketziot Prison.