African refugees clash with Israeli soldiers after they left Holot detention center in the Negev Desert on Israel detains hundreds of African asylum seekers without trial every year, with the approval of its top authorities, the Haaretz daily has reported, citing data released recently.
New official figures show that the Israeli regime has put a total of 311 African refugees behind bars without trial in the past 15 months, the paper said on Sunday.
According to the figures, 223 Eritrean and Sudanese refugees were held without trial at the request of Israeli police between January 2016 and March 2017 and an additional 88 remained in detention after serving out prison sentences.
Israeli authorities justify the detentions by a law that allows the confinement of an individual whose release allegedly endangers their security, public safety or public health.
Israel’s top court has criticized the practice of denying freedom to the refugees who cannot be deported legally but has not prohibited the refugees’ detention without trial.
Executive director of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrant Workers, a human rights organization, said Israel had deprived 311 people of the right to due process over the past months.
“That means 311 people did not receive legal counsel or representation and were not brought to court,” Reut Michaeli said.
Tel Aviv “created a separate justice system for people with a different skin color. … If you’re an African asylum seeker, your liberty is simply worth less,” she added.
Meanwhile, Michal Pomerantz, a lawyer representing an African refugee in Israeli detention, said placing refugees under the so-called administrative detention instead of taking them through legal criminal proceedings infringes on their rights to fair trial.
The detention is a form of imprisonment without trial or charge that allows Israel to incarcerate people for up to six months. Pomerantz further noted that Israel denies refugees the right to a public defender and to court supervision.
“This is especially egregious in light of the fact that these are people who cannot afford a private lawyer and cannot defend themselves.”—Agencies