PM’s envoy to Africa, submits affidavit to High Court of Justice detailing how the Israel is working with 4 other African nations, which will help repatriate illegal African migrants.
Rights groups call gov’t plan a “smokescreen to prolong detention.”
By Edna Adato
Israel has reached an agreement with an unnamed African nation willing to absorb a portion of the African migrants residing in Israel illegally, an affidavit submitted to the High Court of Justice by the prime minister’s chief representative on the matter revealed.
A number of men in the Ktzi’ot detention facility – Photo: Moshe Shai
Hagai Hadas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appointed envoy to Africa, helped secure the deal. He was tasked with formulating a plan to repatriate illegal migrants residing in Israel back in their home countries.
Hadas said Israel was in the final phase of discussions with four other African countries over the issue of returning African migrants. He did not specify whether these nations would absorb migrants, be used as layover nations for migrants on their way back to their countries of birth, or organize the necessary paperwork to send migrants home.
“Because of the diplomatic and political sensitivity, these countries have requested that their identities be withheld,” the document that Hadas submitted explained.
Rights activists slammed the government plan. Attorney Yonatan Berman, the head of the immigrant rights program at the College of Law and Business in Ramat Gan, called the arrangement a “smokescreen designed to prolong the detention of those seeking asylum in Israel.”
Berman was representing asylum seekers and human rights organizations that have petitioned the High Court. “It turns out that the declaration is not an ‘agreement.’ Rather, it is a ‘multiyear’ program, and it is impossible to know when, if ever, it will be implemented, and by whom,” he said.
The government submitted the affidavit as the High Court was hearing a petition that was submitted by migrant organizations and human rights groups, calling on the court to strike down a law that allows the state to detain migrants residing in Israel illegally for up to three years, without trial. The petition claims that Israel is holding some 2,000 men, women and children in the Saharonim and Ketziot detention camps.
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=9879