Photo by Trillia Fidei Bagwell
In response to reports of an agreement to deport asylum-seekers from Israel to Uganda, Israeli human rights organizations said they doubted the likelihood that the agreement will materialize.
In a joint statement the NGOs, ACRI, Hotline for Migrant Workers, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, A.S.A.F., Amnesty International Israel and Kav LaOved, noted: ”For years, the Ministry of Interior has been talking about a third country that will take asylum-seekers from Israel in exchange for arms and money, and Uganda was even mentioned previously. But it turned out that Uganda is not a safe country for refugees from Israel, and that there is no way to ensure the safety of those deported there. Last March, Israel deported an Eritrean asylum-seeker to Uganda, and Uganda was quick to renounce any agreement and deport him immediately upon his arrival. The current talk about an agreement with Uganda remains as vague as ever.
“The Ministry of Interior did not make it clear when the agreement will be actualized, how many people will be absorbed in Uganda, what is the status they will receive and what are the assurances that they will not be deported to their country of origin. The purpose of the announcement on this ambiguous agreement with Uganda is to renew the discussion on the deportations to a third country to delay the High Court of Justice from ruling on the petition calling for the abrogation of the Prevention of Infiltration Law. The announcement is also intended to pressure asylum-seekers in Israel into requesting to leave Israel in any way they find, even if it means risking their lives.”
The organizations also pointed out that the previous Minister of Interior, Eli Yishai, made a similar statement to the media one year ago about a decision to detain and deport all Sudanese asylum-seekers “after the [Jewish] holidays.” After a petition was filed against this announcement, the State Attorney’s office stated that the Minister of Interior cannot make such announcement and that if a decision of this kind was made, it would be published in an orderly manner by the Immigration Authority at least thirty days before coming into force.
The Immigration Authority is yet to publish any announcement on the issue.