Israeli court orders shut down of detention center for African migrants

Israeli court orders shut down of detention center for African migrants

[JURIST] The Israeli High Court of Justice [official website] on Monday ordered [order, PDF] a detention center used to detain African migrants who had crossed illegally and were captured in the Negev Desert to close. The decision annulled the government’s Law for the Prevention of Infiltration [text, PDF] which permitted the state to detain undocumented immigrants for up to one year in “open” detention centers that could only be locked at night, and further required undocumented immigrants detained at the center to register three times per day and prohibited them from seeking employment. The 7-2 vote is considered a groundbreaking decision that will have far reaching implications on some of the country’s current constitutional issues. The order calls for the detention center to be closed within 90 days, and will release approximately 2,000 Africans being held there. Justice Uzi Vogelman, one of the judges voting in the majority, stated [Reuters report], “[the] measure is disproportionate and unconstitutional and there is no choice under the circumstances but to order the law canceled.”

The issue of undocumented immigration [JURIST backgrounder, JURIST news archive] has been a controversial issue throughout the world. In April international medical aid group Doctors Without Borders [advocacy website] condemned [JURIST report] the unsanitary detention conditions of migrants found in Greece without correct paperwork. In February the Australian Human Rights Commission [advocacy website] launched an official government inquiry [JURIST report] into the ways in which immigration detention affects the health, well-being and development of child detainees. In December Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] released a report [JURIST report] claiming that the Negev Desert detention facility violated an order of the High Court of Justice, which ruled in September that the detention of undocumented immigrants for up to three years without trial was unconstitutional.