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High Court to State: Give Darfurians, Nubians refugee rights, or deport

CM 25/04/2021

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The High Court of Justice on Sunday issued a groundbreaking ruling and ultimatum: If the state has not figured out a legal way to deport Darfurians or Nuba Sudanese by December 31, it must grant them full socioeconomic rights as if they were given refugee status.The court did not say how long such persons could get their visas extended in that their status will still not be entirely permanent like a refugee.However, according to lawyers Carmel and Michal Pomeranz, the expectation was that visas for such persons would be virtually automatically extended for at least one year and possibly for multiple years at a time.For the first time, this places intense pressure on the state to either figure out a legal way to deport the Aadrfurians and Nuba Sudanese to Sudan or face long-term legal consequences regarding integrating them into Israeli society.In late 2020, Israel normalized relations with Sudan, leading to speculation on October 25 that the state might finally be able to deport Sudanese migrants who came into Israel without authorization.Yonatan Jakubowicz, executive director of the Israeli Immigration Policy Center, an NGO that campaigns for deporting Africans who arrived in Israel illegally, said that the state should seize the opportunity and make a hard push to deport all remaining Sudanese.Jakubowicz cites rulings globally permitting sending Sudanese migrants, including potentially Darfurians and Nuba Sudanese, back to certain calmer parts  of Sudan, even if it is not back to their original area in Sudan.

Migrants groups have challenged many of these rulings as different from the Israeli scenario.Since the normalization deal, there has been little concrete heard about moving the issue forward and it appears that the High Court was close to losing patience on the issue.The High Court’s loss of patience is more prominent because the ruling applies to persons who filed a refugee request prior to 2017 – meaning the state has already delayed determining their status for many years. Already in 2018, the High Court had pressured the state into giving these migrants a special humanitarian status, including a visa which could be extended annually. However, until this ruling, there was no concrete prospect of the migrants gaining broad socio-economic rights equal to Israeli citizens.Unlike most of the 30,000 plus migrants in Israel who will not benefit from this ruling, approximately 4,400 Sudanese from Darfur, the Nuba Mountains would be the beneficiaries of this ruling.Still, the ruling could pave the way to future similar rulings for other migrants from Sudan and the largest group from Eritrea, if the state does not find a legal formula to deport them. Until the normalization deal, Israel’s main legal position for being unable to send Sudanese migrants back to their country of origin was the absence of diplomatic relations. Besides the additional war crimes and safety issues involved, tpro migrant groups have said that 5,119 Sudan-region migrants have filed requests to be recognized as refugees. These requests must be individually reviewed and processed, the Hotline pointed out, and the group as a whole cannot be simply ignored and sent back to Sudan.The ruling was a split ruling with High Court President Esther Hayut and Justice George Kara in the majority, and Justice Yael Wilner ruling that despite the state’s extreme delay, migrants cannot be granted socio-economic rights without a specific evaluation of each person’s individual circumstances.
Source: Jerusalem Post

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