Social Justice: 2017 Success Story

Basic Human Dignity Is Upheld for Asylum Seekers in Holot

Prisons and detention centres in Israel are severely overcrowded, robbing people of basic human dignity. In the Holot Detention Centre in the Negev, which houses some 3,300 African asylum seekers, there is serious overcrowding, and a ban on bringing personal belonging into the centre. There is also a lack of nutritious food and limited medical service, no cohesive operating procedures, a lack of educational and recreational activities, and disgraceful services provided by the Population and Immigration Authority.

In 2017, NIFC’s partner, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) submitted a petition about the conditions at Holot, resulting in a court ruling that the State must maintain the rights to privacy and dignity of all those in the facility, and so must limit the number of detainees in each room—from ten to six. The High Court of Justice also ruled that detainees must be allowed to bring personal belongings into the facility.

Adv. Sharon Abraham-Weiss, Executive Director of ACRI said, “These rulings are significant for prisoners, detainees and asylum seekers – but they also have a broader significance. They remind us … that a society is judged first by how it treats its disadvantaged populations; those who do not have power, money or political influence must be protected!”

This is a tremendous milestone for human rights; however, it has been followed by attempts to diminish the dignity of these asylum seekers. Calls to incarcerate asylum or deport asylum seekers to Uganda or Rwanda and close the Holot Detention Centre indicate that there is still much to be done to support refugees and asylum seekers in Israel.

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