In August 2017, the Israeli Supreme Court approved the expulsion of black asylum seekers to Rwanda and recognized the agreement with the Rwandan government. The State claimed that the agreement was "confidential", and it was filed under seal and reviewed in an ex-parte hearing, excluding the petitioners. Now it is clear that the entire show was a fraud jointly perpetrated by the State Attorney and the Supreme Court. Such agreement never existed at all.
Figure. Tel-Aviv demonstration by African asylum seekers in 2014.
Figure. Poster for a large March 24, Tel-Aviv demonstration against the deportation of asylum seekers.
Figure. The 2018 UN Human Rights High Commissioner's report notes serious deterioration in integrity of law and justice agencies in Israel.
Tel-Aviv, March 23, Israel, a nation of about 8.5 millions (official figures exclude Palestinians but include Jewish settlers in the territories), is now home to about 50,000 asylum seekers from Africa. The vast majority are from war-torn Sudan or Eritrea. In recent years, the current government has made major efforts to deport them. It has become evident that it would be unthinkable to deport such asylum seekers back to Sudan or Eritrea. Therefore, "third-country" solutions were sought by the Israeli government. Most recently, Israel claimed that it had reached agreements with Rwanda and Uganda to absorb deported asylum seekers.
The case provides unique insights into conduct of the Israeli government and the Israeli justice system.
In order to generate the appearance of due process, relative to the detention and deportation of asylum seekers, Israel operates the Detainees' Courts. However, already the 2013 High Commissioner of Human Rights report noted, "lack of integrity in the electronic record systems of... the Detainees' Courts in Israel." The evidence shows that the courts falsify their own records and document fictitious hearings, which had never taken place in reality. Many of the court files are missing, or hidden with no legal foundation.
Conduct of the Israeli Supreme Court over the past half a year, relative to petitions seeking to stop the deportation, is particularly troubling:
In late August 2017, the Israeli Supreme Court approved the deportation of asylum seekers, based on a purported agreement, which the state had signed with the Rwandan government as their recipient. However, media noted already then, that it remained unclear whether the agreement was indeed filed with the Supreme Court. The purported agreement was filed under seal, and ex-parte hearings were conducted in the presence of the State Attorney counsel only, and in the absence of the petitioners. [i]
In early January 2018, Rwanda and Uganda declared that they had no intention of absorbing any Israeli asylum seekers.
In late January, Israeli pilots declared that they would refuse to cooperate with the deportation. Over 350 Israeli physicians wrote a public protest and condemnation letter to CEO of the Immigration Authority, Prof Shlomo Mor-Yosef, a physician himself. Holocaust survivors also wrote a protest letter to PM Netanyahu [ii] as well as US Jewish rabbis. [iii]
Also in late January, the Rwandan government denied that it had signed any agreement, including any confidential agreement with Israel, pertaining to deportation of asylum seekers. [iv]