Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Eritrean mothers and children released from Israeli prison

The Israeli Ministry of Interior ordered the release of all Eritrean mothers and children detained under the Anti-Infiltration Law for long months Nine Eritrean female asylum seekers with their ten children were released last night after the Hotline for Migrant Workers petitioned for their release last week once more. The release was made possible by a precedent ruling of the Beer Sheva District Court in an appeal of the Hotline for Migrant Workers last week. In the ruling, Judge Alon declared that being a minor can be considered a "special humanitarian ground" for release from detention, even under the Anti-Infiltration Law. The Hotline for Migrant Workers commends this release after a long period during which the NGO called and petitioned for the release of children from detention. Adi Lerner, the Crisis Intervention Center Coordinator at the Hotline for Migrant Workers said: "We commend the decision of the Ministry of Interior, yet we are puzzled why there was a need to detain such young children (from the age of 18 months to seven) for such a long period of time before noticing what is crystal clear: children should not be behind bars regardless of their origin. We need to remember that even now, six families with 14 children are still detained in the Saharonim internment camp. We call the Ministry of Interior to release them as well." According to the Israeli law, a person is considered
Eritrean father meets his son after years
a minor until the age of 18,
but in its responses to court, the State refers to detained children only under the age of 10 as minors. The Hotline for Migrant Workers is aware of a 14-year-old South Sudanese minor who was separated from his mother and younger siblings and is detained separately from them in the men's section, in violation of regulations that prohibit the jailing of minors alongside detainees over the age of 18. We have no knowledge about how many more children between the ages of 10-18 are still detained. Until now, the State claimed that since the Anti-Infiltration Law states that unaccompanied minors can be released from detention, it necessarily means that minors accompanied by their parents should remain in detention. In his verdict last week, Judge Alon stated that releasing minors on humanitarian grounds should be a matter of discretion regardless of whether the minor is accompanied or not. He added that "remaining in indefinite detention will undoubtedly cause significant harm the minors' social and mental development." As a result of this verdict and a new request submitted by the Hotline for Migrant Workers, the Ministry of Interior released the nine mothers and their children last night. The women and children were released at 6:30 pm without giving any notice to the Hotline or their families in Israel.


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