Court: Police Must Provide Eritreans With Translators

YERUSHALAYIM -
Eritrean migrants in Jerusalem. Photo by Noam Moskowitz/ Flash90
Eritrean migrants in Yerushalayim. (Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)

Illegal workers in Israel deserve their day in court – even in criminal court, a Tel Aviv judge said Monday – and if police do not ensure that they get it, they cannot be held, even if the charge is robbery. As a result of the failure of police to ensure those rights, Judge Itai Hermelin released five illegal Eritrean migrants from custody – after police failed to interrogate them in their own language.

Whether they legitimately did not know Hebrew or were feigning ignorance is irrelevant, the court said; it is up to police to provide an interpreter to collect evidence and question the defendants in their own language. Having failed to do so, Yisrael Hayom reported, the court ordered the men released on their own recognizance after they were arrested Friday on suspicion of carrying out a robbery near their home in south Tel Aviv.

Police said they had attempted to track down a translator, but had failed to do so – and as such, were requesting permission to continue holding the suspects until one could be found. Nothing doing, the court said; the illegal workers were to be released, and when police find a translator, they can question the five.

“The fact that these are foreigners who require the services of an interpreter is no excuse for the management of the case in this manner,” the court stated. “It is very possible that their actions are sufficient to make them a menace to society and require their imprisonment. However, the harm done to their civil liberties require us to release them now.”