'State using Infiltrators Law in place of evidence'

Group says state putting arrested illegal immigrants in "administrative detentions" when they lack evidence.

Immigration officers escort African migrant 370 (R) (photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)
Immigration officers escort African migrant 370 (R)
(photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)
The Executive Director of the Hotline for Migrant Workers, Reut Michaeli, said on Thursday that the state is using the so-called “infiltrators law” as a sort of administrative detention for illegal migrants who they do not have enough evidence to convict of crimes.
“What we’re seeing here is that the state is taking people who they couldn’t prove criminal charges against and so they use what is in every way an administrative detention,” Michaeli said.
Administrative detentions are a procedure used by Israeli authorities in the West Bank, to jail Palestinian security suspects indefinitely without charge.
Michaeli’s comment came the day after the Tel Aviv District Court issued a ruling that sent two Eritrean men into detention facilities run by immigration authorities after police failed to bring enough evidence against them to secure a remand extension on rape accusations made against them last week.
On Monday, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court ordered the two men released from police custody, saying the investigation against the two was insufficient to keep them in custody any longer. Police immediately appealed the decision and the court agreed to hold another hearing at the Tel Aviv District Court on Wednesday.
Tel Aviv Police spokesman Moshe Katz said the case against the two men is still open, but that both sides agreed that the compromise reached Wednesday was the best possible solution at the time being.
The move could indicate that police were not able to present enough evidence to secure a further remand extension, which is given by the court to afford police more time to gather material for an indictment.
The January 2012 amendment passed to the Prevention of Infiltration Law known as “infiltrators law,” allows Israel to jail people caught illegally crossing Israel’s borders, without trial for up to three years.
Under Israeli law a foreigner suspected of committing a crime can be deported. Since Eritreans cannot be sent back to their home country because they face the threat of persecution upon return, the other option is to turn them over to the custody of immigration authorities for detention.
Police reported last Thursday that the previous day the two men lured an Israeli woman into an abandoned building used by junkies, squatters, and prostitutes on Tel Aviv’s Hamasger Street. One of the men raped her while the other kept watch, according to police.
Police said the 39-year-old woman had told them she had got off a bus near the building and was walking down the street when one of the men asked her to help with his baby. When they reached the building the two men dragged her inside, and raped her, police said.
On Wednesday it emerged that the case fell through because the complainant would not cooperate with police. According to the defendants’ attorneys, the men paid the woman to have sex with them.
After the alleged crime was first reported, Interior Minister Eli Yishai took to the airwaves to say African migrants are as great a threat as Iran and anti-migrant activists were quick to point to the incident as an indication of the danger posed by Africans.
“What we’re seeing here is that the police were very quick to put the cart before the horse with the charges and when they weren’t able to prove [them] they used an administrative detention, damaging the rights of the accused,” Michaeli said.