Creating new perspectives since 2009

Israel rejects Eritrean asylum seekers at risk of further torture

February 8, 2023 at 3:04 pm

Migrants, living in Neve Sha’anan neighborhood are seen in Tel Aviv, Israel on December 16, 2020 [Nir Keidar/Anadolu Agency]

An Israeli tribunal judge ruled, for the first-time last week, that the criteria set by the government for approving asylum requests from Eritreans are in accordance with the state’s interpretation of the 1951 Refugee Convention.

The ruling resulted in 34 asylum seekers, who were jailed and tortured in Eritrea for intending to dodge army service in their country, having their applications rejected after fleeing to Israel in 2010, reported Haaretz.

According to the 103-page ruling, the Eritrean asylum seekers must prove that their desertion from the army was due to an ideological motive, which they were being persecuted for.

Prior to 2013, Eritreans received collective protection from the state and, therefore, did not examine individual cases. However, after investigating each case from that year, most were rejected.

According to a report last year, published by Haaretz, Israel rejected 98.5 per cent of Eritrean asylum requests since June 2019, with only a 1.5 per cent approval rate.

OPINION: Years after the blood dumping scandal, Ethiopians are still resisting racism in Israel

Despite it possibly holding a substantial penalty, Israel insists it does not accept military desertion as a reason for asylum.

The tribunal’s judge, Chanania Guggenheim, claims that the ruling’s criteria are based on “reliable, up-to-date information about the country of origin” and constitute “a suitable tool that could be of help in examining asylum requests from Eritrea”.

However, Michal Pomerantz, who represented one appellant, said she plans to appeal the ruling.