Rights groups slam plan to detain Sudanese refugees

Human rights groups slam Interior Minister Eli Yishai’s (Shas) plan to detain Sudanese refugees. According to the plan they will be placed in detention camps beginning October 15. In several interviews, Yishai said that he had instructed the Population and Immigration Authority to “begin arresting Eritrean and north Sudanese nationals” in the coming weeks.

On Wednesday he said the order would go into effect on October 15. Racist Yishai stressed that he plans to use all of his “clout” to obtain the legal authorization to detain and then deport African infiltrators. Some 15,000 Sudanese nationals and about 35,000 Eritreans currently live in Israel.

According to Amnesty International the measure is cruel and violates the international commitments that Israel has made. “(Yishai and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s) determination to present asylum seekers as criminals is in fact a manifestation of their desire to be liked by the Israeli public, even if it means acting immorally,” an official at the human rights group said. “The Israeli authorities are well aware that they cannot deport the asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan because their lives are in real danger,” he added. “It’s unfortunate that Israel chooses this moment to ignore reality.”

Attorney Oded Feller, who heads the immigration and status division at the Association for Human Rights in Israel (ACRI), accused the authorities of inhumanity. “If Israel could send people back to Sudan, it would have done it a long time ago,” he said. “The reason why asylum seekers – including survivors of the genocide in Darfur – have yet to be deported to Sudan is that there is no practical way to return there from Israel; those who do return face danger.” “Only a person who has lost his humanity can force asylum seekers and their children to deal with this cruel dilemma: to risk their lives by returning or being imprisoned for many years,” he added.