Saharonim detention center
Photo: Ilana Curiel

'Infiltrators imprisonment plan unrealistic'

Implementation of three-year detention directive in regards to illegal migrant stirs controversy, as IPS says it lacks space; human rights groups threaten legal action

Illegal, unrealistic and inhumane, that is how human rights groups dubbed the Immigration Authority's announcement that it will begin to implement the legal directive allowing the detention of illegal migrants for up to three years.


Sunday's statement, which said the directive will be enforced effective immediately, met with skepticism by the Israel Prison Service as well, as IPS officials said that the prison system in Israel lacks the space needed to successfully implement such a measure.


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Sources in the Prime Minister's Office admitted Monday that the plan's effectiveness is questionable, adding that the measure's main purpose at this time is deterrence.


The sources added that the government's goal is to raise awareness and hopefully decrease the number of infiltrators crossing into Israel every month.


מהגרים אפריקנים בדרום תל אביב. "מוכרים לציבור אשליות" (צילום: עופר עמרם)

Migrants in Tel Aviv (Photo: Ofer Amram)


Meanwhile, human right groups criticized the order. Attorney Oded Feller from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said that the government was "selling the public fantasies. There isn't enough room to hold those who are already here and those that will come in the future.


"Instead of dealing with reality, by which the majority of the infiltrators are asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan, the Interior Ministry chooses to detain them for nothing."


Feller further urged the government to divert the funds it intends to invest in building holding facilities towards finding solutions for asylum seekers.


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' representative in Israel, William Tall, said that "This law should be enforced on illegal infiltrators only, not on asylum seekers. If Israel imposes it on the latter, for unlimited periods of time, we will turn to the Legal System for remedies."


Tall added that it was the State's responsibility to provide asylum seekers with shelter and protection, "In accordance to the international treaties Israel signed. You cannot deport people who arrive in your country seeking asylum.


"Ninety percent of these people come here from Eritrea and Sudan. Israel offers them protection and then turns around and calls them 'infiltrators.' That's a problem. Israel has to clear up its definitions."


Tall said he sympathized with the plight of the residents of south Tel Aviv, but expressed concern over the growing violence towards migrants.



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פרסום ראשון: 06.04.12, 08:41
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