AJC Welcomes Israeli High Court Decision on Detention of Asylum Seekers, Migrants

Sep 17, 2013, 15:52 ET from American Jewish Committee

NEW YORK, Sept. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC praised Israel's High Court of Justice ruling that prolonged administrative detention of refugees and asylum seekers without trial is unconstitutional.

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"The Court's unanimous decision reinforces Israel's democratic and universal values, and strengthens compliance with its international law obligations towards refugees and asylum seekers," said E. Robert Goodkind, Chair of AJC's Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights. 

The Court ordered the release over the next 90 days of some 1,750 asylum seekers and migrants currently detained under the unconstitutional law, following an individual examination of each case.

"This landmark decision can promote constructive dialogue in Israel surrounding the universal rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from Africa. It should encourage an end to any discourse about this group that may prompt violence," said Marion Bergman, Chair of AJC's Africa Institute.  AJC has previously condemned such violence as "totally unacceptable."

Israel has become a favored destination for asylum seekers and migrants from Africa, primarily from Eritrea and Sudan.  Approximately 55,000 now live in Israel. Israel's completion of a fence along the border with Egypt has led to a significant decrease in the arrival of new asylum seekers and migrants from Africa in 2013.

Since 2007, AJC's Jacob Blaustein Institute and AJC's Africa Institute have encouraged and supported strategic legal interventions, advocacy and programs to strengthen Israel's asylum policy and system.  The Jacob Blaustein Institute provided grants to one petitioner – the Tel Aviv University's Refugee Rights Clinic – twice in recent years.

Israel was active in the drafting of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and was among the early signers of its 1967 Protocol.

SOURCE American Jewish Committee