Sudanese refugees' children (archives)
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Petition: Refugees not entitled to legal representation

Several organizations appeal to High Court against Interior Ministry instruction limiting basic rights of people seeking refuge in Israel. 'This is a stain on the Israeli system,' petition says

Several organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice on Monday, demanding to allow people seeking refuge to be represented by a lawyer in all interviews and procedures they go through in Israel.


The petition, filed by Attorney Anat Ben Dor of the Refugee Rights Program, reveals that according to an instruction formed by the Interior Ministry together with the Attorney General's Office, the basic right for legal representations for people seeking refuge has been limited, and the presence of lawyers in interviews conducted by Interior Ministry officials is forbidden.


The African Refugees Development Center, the Hotline for Migrant Workers and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel added in the petition that until recently, the interviews had been conducted by the UN Refugees Agency, which carried them out as part of an Israeli administrative procedure.


At the end of this procedure, the interior minister decides who will be granted refuge in Israel. According to the petitioners, lawyers used to be present in the interviews on a regular basis.


Recently, the petition said, the Interior Ministry took over the interviews. The petitioners claimed that they were surprised to discover that the State took advantage of the opportunity to prevent the refugees from having legal representation.


The petition added that seeking refuge is one of the most fatal decisions an authority could make in regards to a person, with ramifications which could mean a decision between life and death.


Defenseless refugees

The petitioners added that the refuge seekers belong to one of the most vulnerable populations in the State of Israel and do not speak the country's language, are not familiar with its laws and their ability to defend themselves is limited, or nonexistent.


"The decision to limit refuge seekers' right for representation, while Israeli law recognizes each person's right to be represented by a representative appointed by the State, stains the Israeli refuge system," the petition read.


A report published by the Hotline for Migrant Workers on Monday showed that the years in which now Interior Minister Eli Yishai was responsible for setting permit quotas for foreign workers in Israel as industry, trade and labor minister were the peak years in the issuing of work permits to foreigners in Israel.


According to the report, Yishai himself, who now vows to have all illegal immigrants removed from Israel, signed for the entrance of over half a million migrant workers to Israel.


פרסום ראשון: 11.09.09, 17:56
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