Infiltration Law Passed in Israel Violates Refugee Rights

On 9 January 2012, the Israeli cabinet passed the “Law to Prevent Infiltrators” to deter migrants from illegally entering the country’s borders. This tough new law targets increasing numbers of refugees and asylum seekers, the majority of whom come from Sudan and Eritrea and mostly enter Israel through Egypt. The new law applies to those who enter Israel without a permit and their families, including minor children, or those who assist others to enter without a permit, including aid workers. Those charged under the new law may face up to 15 years of imprisonment. The government’s failure to distinguish between illegal migrants and asylum seekers or refugees may result in penalizing asylum seekers for illegal entry, which in many circumstances would be contrary to Israel’s obligations as a party to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

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