11 June 2012

Africa: HRW Denounces Israel's New Migrants' Law Targeting Africans

Addis Ababa — Human Rights Watch has urged Israeli's government to refrain from enforcing a controversial migration law, arguing that the new bill violates international laws on migrants.

If put to effect, the new law will allow Israeli authorities to detain migrants without charge for up to three years and African migrants most of them from South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea will be the prime victims.

In a statement it released on Sunday the New York-based rights group said that the newly revised 'Anti-Infiltration' law denies asylum seekers rights of protections in violation to global refugee convention.

According to HRW, the new Infiltration Law treats all irregular border-crossers as "infiltrators."

The group urged the Israeli parliament to immediately amend the law and refrain from enforcing it.

"Israeli officials are not only adding rhetorical fuel to the xenophobic fire, but they now have a new law that punishes refugees in violation of international law," said Bill Frelick, Refugee Program director at Human Rights Watch.

"The law should be amended immediately, and not enforced until necessary revisions are made."

The rights watch dog alleged that Israeli government officials have recently made violent statements against the African migrant population that have contributed to a racially-motivated attacks against African nationals including fire bombings and a brutal deadly Arson attack against Eritrean migrants.

On May 16, Interior Minister Eli Yishai told Israeli Army Radio that most African migrants were involved in criminal activities and should be jailed, according a report by Haaretz newspaper.

At a demonstration on May 24 where Israeli residents called for the eviction of African asylum seekers from southern Tel Aviv, Miri Regev, a member of parliament, was reported as saying, "The Sudanese are a cancer in our body."

Another Israeli MP, Danny Danon, while addressing anti-refugee demonstrators, said that "an enemy state of infiltrators was established in Israel, and its capital is south Tel Aviv,"

Following the remarks stated above and other public speeches by government officials some demonstrators attacked African migrants and their property in the vicinity.

Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, during a cabinet meeting ordered an urgent expulsion to some 25,000 immigrants from Ethiopia, South Sudan, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, according to country's news outlets.

Currently there are an estimated 60,000 illegal African immigrants in Israel some are refugees fleeing persecution in their home nations, but most are said job seeking migrants.

Israeli government argued that the new law targets only illegal economic refugees and not political refugees such as from Sudan and Eritrea.

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