The Israeli Asylum System in Comparative European Perspective: Summary Session November 12-13, 2012 Employment current situation: • no possibility for asylum seekers to get access to regular work permits, but most of the asylum seekers do work --> large sector of illegal employment • very bad employment conditions: low salaries, no benefits, no pensions • Vicious circle: the precarious economic situation of asylum seekers, forcing many asylum seekers to forge a work permit Issues for further research1.would allowing asylum seekers to work risk a “pull factor”? 2. effect of illegal employment on psychosocial situation of asylum seekers Policy issues1. Integration as a solution 2. If the Israeli Government does not comply with these convention articles, why is it not leaving the convention? (Luise Amtsberg, The German Green Party) Detention Current Situation • Indiscriminate detention of people crossing the border, as well as people living in Israel • Length of detention is often unlimited • No proper condition in the detention center • Families in detention? Children are detained, lack of family unity • Lack of transparency in the decision making • The right for legal representation is either denied or extremely restricted • No professional translation in detention hearings • Entrance of the detention center is limited to organizations • Lack of access to the RSD process, which is cruicial for the option of release Issue for further research: Detention as a measure of coercion/ deterrence (Mekonnen Mesghena, Heinrich Boll Foundation) Temporary / Complementary Protection Temporary and Complementary Protection Regimes should be amended in light of the following considerations: • Further analysis of temporary protection practice in the Israeli should be carried out, in light of: a. Temporary protection: fixed duration, short time, mass movement b. Subsidiary protection: unlimited until the situation ceases to exist, broader scope of harm (not only persecution) c. Right to seek asylum is part of temporary protection • Importance of the right to work in subsidiary / temporary protection • Importance of articulating forms of protection in legislation • Importance of ability to challenge: if a member of the group being protected; If need protection from persecution; If need protection from other serious harm • Adequate procedure on ending of protection: transfer to other forms of protection. Further research: Similarities and differences between “deferred action” in the US and group protection of Eritreans and Sudanese in US (Maryellen Fullerton, Brooklyn Law School; Michael Kleinhans, Head of Asylum Affairs, Federal German Office for Migration and Refugees) Border Policies • Policy recommendation: On the basis of international law, Israel has to develop an asylum procedure for potential applicants at the border. This should include the question of whether they want to ask for refugee protection. It should include an interview with a qualified interviewer and translator, a reasoned decision, and the possibility of judicial appeal with suspensive effect. This might be limited to a pre-screening procedure, i.e. distinguishing between manifestly unfounded applications, and applications which merit further consideration. The clearest legal precedent for this is the 2012 ECtHR Hirsi Jamaa judgement. There is a practical difficulty in conducting such screenings on the border or high seas, and they may require short-term detention. • Despite the specifications of the situation of Israel, it has to be acknowledged that, as a matter of fact, Israel is part of the African/European migration system. Increases or decreases in applications are related to developments in countries of origin an transit; to developments in Israel; and to developments in Europe. The specificity of the situation of Israel is there, but it is similar to the specifications of other countries in the African/European migration system, such as Greece or Italy. (“waterbed effect”) • Transparency of border policies and monitoring • We should think about border policies in light of the possibility of a future opening of the border? Would that make Israel a transit destination? (Thomas Spijkerboer, Amsterdam VU University) Sur Place • It is internationally recognized that refugee situations may occur after the departure from the home country. Under the Refugee Convention, protection is provided not for the reasons that caused the departure but against the persecution the person could suffer in case of return. In particular, three scenarios may be distinguished: a. fear of persecution based on action or behavior of a person after the departure; b. a change of the situation in the country of origin during the stay abroad; c. c. the fact of having irregularly left the country of origin, namely if the country of refuge is considered an enemy country to the government of origin. • Policy recommendation: Assessment of refugee status should be done in a way equal to all the claimants. As a matter of principle there is no difference between those two categories of refugees. It may be more difficult in some cases to establish the credibility of the reasons the claimant provides. (Christopher Hein, Italian Council for Refugees) General Policy Recommendations 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. Identify an asylum system outline for Israel that takes into account the particular situation of Israel along with our international responsibilities and the realities of our location on a migration route. (Joel Moss, HIAS) Positive marketing and implementation of a coherent asylum system at the same time as combating current legal abuses. (Joel Moss, HIAS) So far, the asylum regime developed ad-hoc in conflict between NGOs and government agencies, mediated by the Court. We should foster more opportunities for tri-partite discussion (academics, NGOs and government). (Joel Moss, HIAS, Yohannes Bayu, ARDC, Michael Alexander, ARDC) We should try to form an on-going framework of cooperation. (Michael Alexander, ARDC). Such models exist in other countries, such as the Netherlands and the UK. (Joel Moss, HIAS) Involvement of the beneficiaries (refugees and asylum seekers) in making policy decisions We should establish a broader pro bono legal representation system for asylum seekers to complement the work of NGO Lawyers and private lawyers. (Joel Moss, HIAS) Israel should set a time frame for the RSD process, to avoid delays in decision-making. (Tally Amir, CLB, as per Avi Himi’s presentation). Israel should form a definition of Temporary Protection or different protection schemes and the rights attached. (Tally Amir, CLB) Immigration of asylum should be dealt with through international refugee law and human rights law, but also from the perspectives of the labor market and security. (Mekonnen Mesghena, Heinrich Boll Foundation) Discourse on refugees and asylum seekers should not be merely legal, but should also refer to moral obligations. (Mekonnen Mesghena, Heinrich Boll Foundation) Is Legislation desirable? (Tally Amir, CLB) Israel has entered the Africa->Europe immigration map, and is not likely to get off it. (Michael Alexander, ARDC) Therefore, a long term question: EU-Israel cooperation on an asylum system & a future burden sharing mechanism (Marc Berthold, Heinrich Boll Foundation) Mediterranean perspective & context as significant for the determination of policy measures. (Marc Berthold, Heinrich Boll Foundation) Further Research Issues 1. Research on the asylum process through looking at asylum application files? Freedom of information requests? (Tally Amir, CLB as per Avi Himi’s presentation) 2. Is the case of immigration of asylum seekers to Israel so unique in comparison to other countries, and how should this translate into policy measures? (Tally Amir, CLB) 3. The effect of the Palstinian-Israeli conflict on the asylum context (policy / public opinion) (Adi Hercowitz, Haifa University) 4. Is race an issue in the Israeli asylum System ? (Adi Hercowitz, Haifa University) 5. The effect of the presence of asylum seekers in Israel on the Israeli Society and culture.