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The Knesset approves an illegal migrants’ bill. A law that flies in the face of the Geneva Convention on Refugees

by Alfred Breitman – EveryOne Group

Rome, January 11th, 2012

The illegal migrants’ bill approved in Israel is a total violation of the Geneva Convention on refugees, as it transforms them into criminals. The amendment to the 1954 law will aggravate the terms of treatment for the sub-Saharan refugees that enter Israel. It also allows authorities to arrest and hold migrants for a period of up to three years, and foresees up to 15 years’ imprisonment for human rights defenders who – in accordance with the Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – help the refugees who succeed in reaching Israel. We know a number of these Israeli activists, who are extraordinary humanitarian workers. They prevent persecuted citizens becoming the victims of true tragedies, refugees whom the Israeli authorities now consider criminals. We consider this bill a dramatic and unacceptable legal measure, as it was not approved by a fundamentalist regime, but by a democratic country. We will be appealing to the United Nations and the EU authorities to take measures against this unconstitutional law.

Knesset approves illegal migrants’ bill

by Moran Azulay

January 11, 2012. Bill which will allow authorities to hold illegal migrants for up to three years without trial, jail those assisting illegal migrants for up to 15 years passes second, third readings The illegal migrants bill was approved in the Knesset Plenum on Monday night in its second and third readings. The amendment to the 1954 law from will aggravate the terms of treatment towards illegal migrants and refugees that enter Israel illegally, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan.

The vote was carried 37 to eight. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and MKs from the Kadima party voted in favor of the bill. According to the new amendment, the law, which was originally meant to deal with terrorists, will also be applied to asylum seekers. It also allows authorities to arrest and hold illegal migrants in a holding facility for a period of up to three years.Moreover, anyone who assists illegal migrants while they are in Israel could be thrown into prison for a period of up to 15 years. The Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee filed a reservation to the bill and asked that an additional clause will be added to the law stating the law will only be applied to Israelis who aid illegal migrants that carry out criminal acts.  The Justice Minster requested that the reservation be removed but the cabinet later removed their opposition to the clause and it was approved.  The illegal migrants’ bill has received a great deal of criticism from the Internal Affairs Committee’s legal advisors and many claim the law is unconstitutional. The Knesset’s Legal Advisor Eyal Yinon claimed that “the possibility of holding illegal migrants in custody for a period of three years without a trial is extremely irregular.” Yinon noted that following negotiations he held with cabinet representatives it was decided that the border control commissioner would be able to release illegal migrants in extreme cases after three years, but Yinon believes that the clause is not satisfactory as release after three years should be the general rule and not the exception.

Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin spoke out during the Knesset’s deliberations and told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that approving the bill could have major consequences and would attract major global criticism.

“You’ll end up in Geneva,” he said adding, “We can’t approve everything, we will have to face the world.”

Photo by Amit Magal: Saharonim prison where migrants are held


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