Foreign Ministry: International law does not prevent Israel from deporting South Sudanese asylum-seekers (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Barak Ravid 05/15/12)
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International law poses no barrier to deporting all 700 South
Sudanese who live in Israel, but the government should examine the
situation of every South Sudanese asylum seeker to ascertain whether
their lives would be at risk if they were sent back, the Foreign
Ministry announced in an official brief this week.
The brief, which has been sent to several government agencies in the
past few days, will form the basis of the government´s June 3
response to the District Court for Administrative Matters in
Jerusalem on whether Israel can lift the collective protection of
asylum seekers from South Sudan.
"In light of the examination that was conducted, the Foreign
Ministry´s position is that, from the perspective of international
law, it is possible to put a halt to the policy of not deporting all
South Sudanese," the ministry said in the brief. "The Foreign
Ministry thinks there is no obligation in international law to grant
asylum for socioeconomic reasons, but rather if the financial and
social situation in the country is so bad that it causes the asylum
seekers to be risking their lives or can be classified as cruel,
inhuman or degrading."
All the same, the Finance Ministry document does suggest looking into
the personal history of each South Sudanese asylum seeker.
"The Finance Ministry thinks South Sudanese nationals can be removed
to their country after the situation of each South Sudanese national
seeking asylum is examined in detail to make sure his return to South
Sudan adheres to the principle of not returning to danger," the brief
says. "During this examination, the changing situation in South Sudan
should be monitored, and situation assessments should be made on a
regular basis. Similarly, in areas where the security situation is
more fluid [such as areas in the north], we recommend regularly
checking in with the Foreign Ministry to find out the situation in
the field before removing individuals to such regions."
Major violence between Sudan and South Sudan has flared recently,
pushing the region to the edge of all-out war, according to news
The Foreign Ministry also recommends coordinating the deportation of
certain categories of asylum seekers - those facing a high risk of
danger and families with children - with South Sudan´s ministry of
humanitarian affairs, and promoting cooperation with international
aid organizations or Israeli groups in South Sudan to maintain
contact with deportees.
The more Israel coordinates deportation with South Sudan, which
became a sovereign country last year, the less likely it is that
Israel´s ties with the new nation will be damaged by the process,
according to the Foreign Ministry.
The brief is meant to show whether Israel can carry out an Interior
Ministry decision to deport South Sudanese while upholding
international guidelines, according to a senior official in the
It is part of a larger report compiled by a task force headed by
former Israeli Ambassador Pinchas Avivi and sent to the Interior
Ministry, Justice Ministry and National Security Authority. It is
based in part on the findings of Dan Shaham, Israel´s ambassador to
Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia. Shaham was sent to South
Sudan in April to assess whether it would be possible to deport the
South Sudanese in Israel.
Other information the task force used in making its determination
includes a study by the Foreign Ministry´s Center for Political
Research. It also examined other countries´ positions on deporting
South Sudanese and that of the UN refugee agency, along with
precedents in international law.
The refugee agency has not released an opinion declaring that
deporting South Sudanese violates the Refugee Convention, which
states that refugees should not be sent back to face clear and
present danger, and has not expressed opposition to it, the Foreign
Ministry brief states.
In the European Union, the European Court of Human Rights asks asylum
seekers to explain why they think they shouldn´t be deported - and
the answers must go beyond lack of access to decent medical
treatment. In Britain, the House of Lords determined that it is
permissible to deport people to countries that do not provide the
same rights as the country in which they sought asylum, as long as
some rights remain.
The British government is holding negotiations with the South
Sudanese government over the deportation procedures, and Denmark and
Norway have decided there is no overarching reason not to deport
South Sudanese asylum seekers. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 05/15/12)
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