Flouting International Law: Violating the Human Rights of Asylum Seekers, Including Victims of Torture and Human Trafficking, in and en route to Israel – Laurie Lijnders
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel
My 15-year-old brother Habtom disappeared after he was released from an underground cell in the trafficking compound of Abu Khalid, where he was tortured for three months until we paid US$35,000 for his release, a young Eritrean woman told me during a visit to her home in a Tel Aviv suburb. Habtom, who fled forced military conscription and institutionalized slavery in Eritrea, was kidnapped in April 2012 from Shagarab refugee camp in Eastern Sudan by Rishyada tribesmen. Through a well-organized network of human traffickers operating in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, and Israel, he was transferred to the northern Sinai desert, near the Egyptian border with Israel.
The Israeli Ministry of Interior estimates that 60,000 African asylum seekers, mainly from Eritrea and Sudan, have arrived in Israel in recent years via the country’s southern border. According to Israeli human rights organizations, arriving asylum seekers face serious rights violations on both sides of the border.
Although ICE’s Secure Communities initiative claims to prioritize “the removal of criminal aliens, those who pose a threat to public safety, and repeat immigration violators,” recent national reports by PBS Frontline and the Applied Research Center (ARC) indicate that most immigrants taken into ICE custody have no serious criminal history—and, moreover, that a growing number are parents with dependent children.
Sarah S. Willen
Just as we were dotting ‘i’s and crossing ‘t’s for this latest news round-up, Nina Bernstein’s front-page article in today’s New York Times, “Officials Hid Truth About Immigrant Deaths in Jail,” hammered home the risks and dangers of being ill or injured in a United States immigration prison. The piece foregrounds the 2007 deaths – in ICE custody – of Nery Romero, originally from El Salvador, and Boubacar Bah, originally from Guinea.
Bernstein’s reporting was facilitated by the recent release of thousands of pages of confidential documents – among them memos, draft reports, “talking points,” and Blackberry messages – to the NYT and the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act. Read more…