138 Asylum Seekers to be Released

Following a petition by NIF grantee the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, Israel will release 138 African asylum seekers after almost two years of detention. Hotline Attorneys Carmel Pomerantz (who is also an NIF Law Fellow alum) and Asaf Weitzen argued that the state was not allowed to intern asylum seekers for more than a year. The group will now be issued with temporary residence permits.

The group of asylum seekers were imprisoned in December 2013 under the Prevention of Infiltration Law, which has since been declared illegal by the High Court of Justice.

Pomerantz and Asaf Weitzen said: “We welcome the decision to release these detainees after more than two years, but we regret the lost time and the need for legal action in order to bring these people some belated measure of justice. We hope this decision indicates that the authorities now understand the High Court rulings, which emphasise that in Israel one cannot imprison someone for no purpose and without trial when it is not possible to legally remove them.”

One of the inmates to be released, Yousef Zakaria, an asylum seeker from Darfur, said: “For a long time I’ve seen so many people set free – I didn’t think my day would come too. I’m very happy, but still afraid about what will happen to us, worried that we’ll end up in prison again. I hope I can live here peacefully – I’m still waiting for a response to my request for asylum, which I submitted two years ago.”

October 2014