Jewish Journal

Small Legal Victory for African Asylum Seekers in Israel

by Jeremy Elster

May 25, 2014 | 5:45 am

Last Wednesday, May 21st, the Israeli Supreme Court heard an appeal on behalf of Mutasim Ali, the Director of the African Refugee Development Center in Tel Aviv and a representative of the Refugee community in Israel. Ali and his lawyer, Attorney Asaf Weitzen of Hotline for Refugees and Migrants - Israel argued against the process by which the Israel government issues summons to the Holot detention facility in the Negev. After a heated courtroom discussion, the court ruled that African asylum seekers must be given a hearing before being issued summons to Holot, a move optimistically seen as a step toward Israeli recognition of refugee rights.

In a break from the current system, accroding to Attorney Asaf Weitzen, "The court gave the State a final verdict that says that before they can summon someone to Holot, they must give a hearing to individuals. This means they are required to allow individuals to make claims, to bring with them a lawyer, to submit documents, only after that get a decision then it's allowed to attack with administrative practices."

Added Mutasim, "The court said that there needs to be a hearing before a summons. And that is for everyone, not just to my specific case. In my opinion, this is a big success. We are advancing little by little and there is hope that things will change [for the better]."

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Jeremy Elster is a Southern Californian native and New Israel Fund/SHATIL Social Justice Fellow working as the International Communications Coordinator for Israel Social TV...

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