HCJ Orders Review of Sudanese Asylum Seeker Pleas by Year’s End

Israel’s High Court of Justice (HCJ) ordered the government on Sunday, April 25, to review the asylum applications of refugees from Sudan’s regions of Darfur, the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile by the end of this year. The High Court ruling relates to the applications of 2,445 asylum seekers submitted before June 2017 which have yet to be adjudicated by the state.

2017 demonstration of African refugees and asylum seekers in Tel Aviv

2017 demonstration of African refugees and asylum seekers in Tel Aviv (Photo: Activestills)

A three-judge panel ruled unanimously that if the state fails to review the applications for asylum by end of 2021, it will be required to grant temporary residency to the applicant refugees who have been left in limbo for well over a decade.

The judges lamented that the state has dragged its feet in handling asylum request applications and has changed its reasons for the delays over the years. The state has yet to formulate an official policy for adjudicating asylum requests, despite multiple pledges to the court that it planned to do so, the most recent of which was in October 2018.

“The continued delay in ruling on the asylum requests of Darfurians has led to uncertainty and even destabilization in the affairs of those waiting and therefore is causing significant damage to asylum seekers,” Chief Justice Esther Hayut wrote in the unanimous opinion.

The lawyers representing the petitioners, Attornies Carmel and Michal Pomeranz, said they expect that visas for such persons will be automatically extended for at least one year and possibly for multiple years at a time.

Roughly 6,000 Sudanese refugees currently live in Israel, making up about one fifth of all asylum seekers in the country. Most of them fled because of the 2003 genocide in Darfur, and have since resided in Israel without official status, and consequently have not had access to many basic social services.