HIAS Applauds Israel Supreme Court For Striking Down Lengthy Detention For Asylum Seekers

Posted on Mon, Sep 16, 2013 at 13:53 pm

(New York, NY) – HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees, applauds the decision today of Israel’s Supreme Court to strike down the Third Amendment to the Law for the Prevention of Infiltration, which had authorized the prolonged imprisonment of asylum seekers in Israel. Overturning this amendment will result in the freedom of hundreds of men, women, and children who are currently being held in prison-like conditions without trial under the amendment, which was passed in January 2012.

According to Mark Hetfield, President & CEO of HIAS: “The High Court ruling striking down the anti-infiltration law demonstrates that the Israeli legal system is indeed a light unto the nations, and marks an important step toward improving Israel’s treatment of asylum seekers. Now, the biggest problem facing asylum seekers in Israel is xenophobia. That needs to be solved, and the Israeli government needs to start playing a positive role.

“With the security fence, the number of asylum seekers crossing the Sinai into Israel each month is in the single digits. The government of Israel now has an opportunity to rationally and humanely address the issues of social rights as well as the xenophobia that the 55,000 asylum seekers in Israel currently face.”

For several years, HIAS—in partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security—has been working with Israel’s Ministry of the Interior to establish a refugee status determination process for asylum seekers that is consistent with international law and treats all potential refugees with dignity and respect.

HIAS applauds the work of its colleague agencies—the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), the Clinic for Migrants’ Rights at the Academic Center of Law and Business in Ramat Gan, the Hotline for Migrant Workers, and the Refugee Rights Clinic at the Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law—for bringing this issue before Israel’s Supreme Court and successfully arguing on behalf of the tens of thousands of asylum seekers in Israel.