Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel

UN: Israel immigration rules could breach intl. law

Date: 10.1.14 Source: PressTV

“Detaining asylum seekers should happen only as a last resort, and in exceptional circumstances. It also should be limited to the shortest possible duration," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said on Friday.

He expressed concern that people held in Israel “are going to be in circumstances where their only means of being released is to volunteer to return to their country(sic.) of origin.”

This could in effect result in indefinite detention with no release grounds, he added, stressing that “Indefinite detention certainly would be at odds with human rights norms."

In December 2013, the Israeli parliament, Knesset, approved a law, allowing officials to keep African migrant workers in detention facilities without trial for one year.

The law also gives Tel Aviv the right to send “illegal immigrants” to complexes called “open facilities” -- until they are deported or voluntarily go back to their homelands. Migrants kept in the open facilities will have no right to work.

Israel has also opened a new detention facility in the Negev desert to house immigrants and was expected to transfer 1,000 migrants to the center by the end of December.

More than 50,000 African immigrants, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, currently work in low-paying jobs in Israel.

Human Right Watch has blamed Tel Aviv for using the “threat of prolonged detention” to force the African migrants to give up their asylum claims.