Asylum Seekers March to Jerusalem

19 December 2013
The asylum seekers marching to Jerusalem

Meanwhile, flagship NIF grantee the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Hotline submitted a petition to the High Court for Justice seeking to overturn a draconian new law — passed a week ago — pertaining to refugees and asylum seekers. According to the legislation, anybody crossing Israel’s border without a permit is detained for a year and then transferred to an “open facility.” Once in the open facility, all residents are required to report for a roll call three times a day, making it almost impossible to leave or work. The facility is not officially considered a prison. Migrants can be kept there indefinitely.

Previous litigation initiated by NIF grantees resulted in a unanimous decision of the Israel’s High Court that struck down a similar law. It is unclear how long it might take for the court to rule, once again, on the issue.

During last week’s Knesset debate on the legislation to hold the asylum seekers in detention, Knesset Member Nachman Shai (Labor) lamented that, with this new law, Israel was implementing a “policy that ignores the founding values of the state.”

Israelis and asylum seekers protest in Jerusalem. The sign on the left reads: “We were also refugees.”

Sigal Rozen, from the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants said: “The confusion and frustration among them [the asylum seekers] is great as neither they, nor we, know what to expect. Since many of them did not see the difference between the new facility and the old one, they decided to protest their prolonged detention and the intention to keep them in the new ‘open prison’ without a time limit and without judicial review.”

Read more about the protest in the New York Times.