Yerushalayim Court: No Reason Not to Deport Eritreans Now

Eritreans. (Noam Moskowitz/ Flash90)

An appeals court in Yerushalayim on Wednesday recommended that the state begin the process of deporting illegal Eritrean migrants back to their home country. The court made the recommendation in the context of a case in which migrants appealed the government’s rejection of their claims to be allowed to remain in Israel as political refugees. If they are not refugees, the court said, they were illegal migrants, and could be deported without issue.

The recommendation, in the decision written by appeals court judge Menachem Pachitsky, said that the migrants had caused Israelis “many years of suffering. Crime is raging in the streets in cities where the migrants live, and law enforcement has few – and mostly ineffective – tools to battle this. Solutions that have been tried, including the Holot detention center in southern Israel, sending them to a third country, requiring them to deposit cash as an incentive for them to leave, and others have not worked,” with most of the solutions struck down by the High Court.

With the recent implementation of a peace treaty between Eritrea and Ethiopia – which will remove the threat of forced lifetime service in the army that many Eritreans claim they fled from – along with several international precedents, such as the recent decision by the Swiss federal court that Eritreans no longer had a basis to claim political refugee status, there was no reason not to deport them, the court said.

Commenting on the decision, groups representing the migrants said that state had no grounds to deport the Eritreans. “The court decision is exceptional and flies in the face of decisions by the High Court. The Eritreans still fear for their lives, and thus cannot be deported.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, on the other hand, said that he was “proud that we were able to prevent absorption of the refugees, as many demanded. Now we must return them to their homelands as quickly as possible. Based on the court’s recommendation, the Knesset will have to pass the law allowing the Knesset to override High Court decisions, in order to remove it as a factor in preventing the deportations.”

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