Israel Deports 14 Eritreans Who 'Volunteered' To Return to Homeland

Controversial New Protocol Defies U.N. Decision Position

Homeward Bound?: African migrants head to Ben Gurion International Airport to be deported to their countries of origin.
Haaretz
Homeward Bound?: African migrants head to Ben Gurion International Airport to be deported to their countries of origin.

By Haaretz/Ilan Lior

Published July 15, 2013.

Israel flew 14 Eritreans back to their home country on Sunday, human rights organizations say. According to reports, 14 Eritrean nationals who had been held at the Saharonim detention facility in southern Israel were flown to Eritrea via Turkey after signing consent forms. One man changed his mind after signing the documents and remained in custody at Saharonim.

The group’s deportation was carried out in accordance with a new protocol, approved two weeks ago by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, regulating the “voluntary return” of migrants from Eritrea and Sudan being held in detention facilities in Israel.

The protocol contradicts the position of the United Nations and human rights groups, according to which an individual cannot legally consent to repatriation while in custody. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has explicitly said that someone being asked to choose between lengthy imprisonment and returning to his country, at the risk of losing his life, cannot be said to be returning “voluntarily.”

The Interior Ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority refused to confirm the accuracy of the reports, saying only that “infiltrators leave continually” as part of the “voluntary return” protocol and that anyone who sought to leave may do so under the protocol.

Read more at Haaretz.com



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