Supreme Court Rules: Refugees Deserve a Fair Process

29 May 2014

A few weeks ago, we reported that Mutasim Ali, executive director of NIF grantee ARDC, and also an African asylum seeker, was sent to the Holot detention facility He has now been held there for three weeks, but a new Supreme Court ruling offers some hope for Ali and other asylum seekers. Following a petition filed by Ali, NIF grantee the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants and other NGOs, the Supreme Court called on the Ministry of Interior to hold a hearing for each asylum seeker before issuing a summons to detention. The original petition had been rejected in the district court.

Asylum seekers are being sent for indefinite detention at Holot without being given the opportunity to present their personal case or be represented by an attorney. Around 1,800 people are currently held at the detention facility. They are technically allowed to come and go, but they are required to report for roll call three times a day, or they are sent to prison.

In his ruling, Justice Fogelman said, “There is no separate administrative process for refugees; there is one administrative law for all.”

In addition, the Supreme Court ordered the Ministry of Interior to hold a hearing in which Ali can be represented by a lawyer and present his case. Ali said: “I am pleased with the court’s decision because the most important thing is that the administrative procedure for issuing these summonses will change. My case represents everybody.”

Adv. Assaf Weitzen, representing Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, added: “Holot is no place to send anyone, no matter what the administrative procedure is, and certainly not people like Ali. But in any case, the court’s offer will give people access to legal representation before a decision is made, and allow them to present their case. This would be a reasonable administrative procedure, applied to enforce an unreasonable law. However, it’s a shame that the court didn’t give enough consideration for the people already sent to Holot without this reasonable process.”