Israel: halt to forced deportations welcomed, but Africans still under pressure to leave

Asylum-seekers protesting outside the Rwandan Embassy in Tel Aviv earlier this year © Amnesty International Israel

‘Israel is still conducting what it calls “voluntary” deportations, though in reality there is nothing voluntary about them’ - Magdalena Mughrabi 

Responding to the Israeli government’s declaration to the Israeli High Court that it will stop forcible deportations of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers to “third countries”, Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Middle East Deputy Director, said: 

“While the Israeli government’s declaration to the High Court that it will stop forcible deportations of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers to ‘third countries’ is welcome, there is still deep cause for concern. 

“Israel is still conducting what it calls ‘voluntary’ deportations, though in reality there is nothing voluntary about them. Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers agree to them under pressure.

“Israel remains under the obligation not to transfer anyone to a country where they would be at real risk of serious human rights violations, or where they would not be protected against such transfer. 

“Amnesty International will keep monitoring Israel’s deportations of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers closely.”

‘Reckless’ deportation scheme

Last month, Amnesty described Israel’s plan for the deportation of African migrants as “reckless” and an abnegation of its international responsibilities.

Earlier this year, Israel reportedly reached agreements with two countries - widely understood to be Uganda and Rwanda - to deport Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers. Under the so-called “Procedure for Deportation to Third Countries”, launched in January, migrants who agreed to leave were to be given approximately £2,460 and a ticket to either their country of origin or an unnamed “third country”. Those who refused faced indefinite detention. Israel claimed the scheme facilitated “voluntary departures” of “infiltrators”, and Eritrean and Sudanese male “infiltrators” were required to leave Israel by 4 April.
 

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