Israeli Supreme Court: Being a torture camps' survivor can be considered as an "exceptional humanitarian reason" for release under the Anti-Infiltration Law

We are happy to report that the Supreme Court accepted our appeal against a verdict issued in a lower instance court that rejected the Hotline for Migrant Workers' request to release an asylum seeker who survived the torture camps in Sinai from the Saharonim internment camp. The outrageous lower instance ruling by Judge Eliyahu Bitan stated that severe torture cannot be considered as an "exceptional humanitarian reason" for release under the Anti-Infiltration Law. All asylum seekers who have entered Israel since June 2012 have been jailed under this draconian law according to which asylum seekers can be released only in exceptional circumstances  including "exceptional humanitarian" cases. In his ruling, Judge Bitan stated that torture cannot be considered an "exceptional humanitarian reason" for release because it occurs too often, adding:

“It appears to me that recognizing [victims of] torture like those described by the appellant as a justifiable circumstance for release from custody, is likely to lead an increase in the phenomenon of torture and to a deterioration, and even to the creation of a phenomenon among infiltrators of self-inflicted harm. And that, in this case, is not desirable.”

Following this odious ruling, the Hotline for Migrant Workers appealed to the Supreme Court on behalf of the tortured asylum seeker. In a ruling that was handed out on April 18, 2013, the Supreme Court rejected Bitan's ruling. The Supreme Court stated that each case of an asylum seeker asking for release due to torture they underwent in Sinai needs to be examined based on its on merit and that it is possible that jailing people who are survivors or torture could harm their physical and mental health, and therefore their release could meet the definition of an "exceptional humanitarian" case under the Anti-Infiltration Law.

The tortured asylum seeker is represented by Adv. Raya Meiler from the Hotline for Migrant Workers who will now need to prove to the Administrative Tribunal in Saharonim prison that the continuous jailing period might harm the physical and mental health of the survivor. We hope that this important verdict will pave the way to release about 200 torture survivors who are detained in Saharonim prison with no release date.

Link to the verdict (Hebrew):

Sigal Rozen
Public Policy Coordinator


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