On 28.8.2017, the Supreme Court handed down its decision on the detention of asylum seekers in the Holot Detention Center in the Negev.

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Read the decision here

Five supreme-court judges, headed by President Miriam Naor, published their response to those who had appealed the decision of the Israeli Authorities regarding the detention of asylum seekers in the Holot Detention Center. Those appealing long term detention in Holot were two Eritrean asylum seekers and a series of NGOs including the Hotline for Migrants and Refugees, the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, the African Refugee Development Center, Physicians for Human Rights, the Worker Hotline and ASAF.

The Supreme Court judges ruled that the asylum seekers cannot be imprisoned for more than sixty days even if they oppose “expulsion by choice” however there is no issue with expelling them to a third country. According to existing legislation, it is permissible to keep a foreign citizen in detention for an unlimited time until that person “is convinced” to agree to voluntary expulsion. In their ruling, the judges limited to a large extent the capacity of the state to impose expulsion on those resisting by long term imprisonment.

The Supreme Court partially accepted the appeal that was made in the name of foreign citizens and human rights organizations. The organizations that led the struggle welcomed the decision. “The Supreme Court determined today that it is not permissible to detain asylum seekers for undefined periods as an instrument of pressure on them. In its decision today, the Supreme Court decided not to allow a draconian and unprecedented system that allows detainment of innocent people for unlimited time.”

According to these organizations, “since 2012, 64 000 asylum seekers have lived in Israel. To date, only 28 000 Eritrean and 8 000 Sudanese asylum seekers remain.”

According to data from Amnesty International, until June 2017, Eritreans had submitted 8 490 demands for asylum and Sudanese had submitted 5 274 such demands, a total of 13 764. By November last year, 2 066 demands had been refused right away and another 1 350 were refused after a summary process. 7 282 demands have not been answered. According to the organization, only two Sudanese and eight Eritreans have received refugee status.