Target: Israeli Minister of Internal Affairs Gideon Sa’ar
Goal: Prevent Israeli officials from detaining asylum-seekers indefinitely
The Israeli government recently began a campaign to force as many Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers as possible to return to their countries of origin by threatening them with indefinite detention. To imprison these people, who have committed no crime, and then risk their lives by forcing them to return to the nations they are seeking asylum from, is morally repugnant and clearly illegal under international law. We must urge the Office of the Interior to stop detaining these refugees, and to expedite the trials of those currently in custody.
Under Israel’s Anti-Infiltration Law, any official who determines that an asylum-seeker does not “express free-will” may detain the individual in question for an indefinite period of time, with no proof of espionage required. Several videos recorded by the government show officials explaining this to prospective asylum-seekers in a threatening manner before implying that the only way to avoid such a fate is to accept deportation to the refugee’s country of origin. In this way, Israel has blackmailed over 500 Sudanese nationals into deportation.
In addition to the campaign against asylum-seekers, the Ministry of the Interior has threatened to deport thousands, and possibly tens of thousands, undocumented Sudanese and Eritrean immigrants without allowing them a chance to seek asylum. Several who were connected with minor offences have already been put in custody, including several individuals who had previously served their sentences and been released.
These actions clearly violate the 1951 Refugee Convention, which bars individuals from being returned to countries where they could be persecuted “in any manner whatsoever.” Furthermore, the U.N.’s guidelines on political asylum clearly state that asylum-seekers are to be detained no longer than is necessary to prove their identity. With this in mind, we must demand that the Ministry of the Interior stop using these flagrantly unethical tactics and release all asylum-seekers in their custody.
Dear Minister of Internal Affairs Gideon Sa’ar,
Israeli officials have recently begun a campaign of flagrantly blackmailing Sudanese and Eritrean asylum-seekers into agreeing to deportation by threatening them with indefinite sentences. While these actions are technically legal under Israeli law, they clearly violate both the 1951 Refugee Convention, which bars individuals from being coerced to return to dangerous countries of origin, and the U.N.’s guidelines on refugees.
Israel’s use of such blatant blackmail against defenseless refugees is extremely disappointing and only serves to underline a long series of similar human rights abuses. To win back the respect of the world Israel must release all asylum-seekers in custody, and stop the campaign against them.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Hillel Assaf via Wikimedia Commons