An appeals tribunal ruled that the Interior Ministry cannot simply reject asylum requests because they were filed belatedly.
The Tel Aviv tribunal said the ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority must examine each asylum request on its merits, even if it was filed more than a year after the asylum seeker entered the country, as in the case before the court.
A belated filing does constitute grounds for a more cursory examination of the request but not for rejecting it out of hand, Judge Dotan Bergmann wrote.
The appellant, a Sri Lankan national, entered Israel in September 2013 on a two-week tourist visa and never left. In May 2015, he filed an asylum request, saying he was being persecuted by criminals in his own country and feared they would kill him if he returned.
About three weeks later, the border authority rejected his application on the grounds that it was filed more than a year after he entered Israel. He asked it to reconsider, saying the delay stemmed from a change of government in Sri Lanka, but the authority refused.
“I didn’t find this decision reasonable,” Bergmann wrote. For one thing, he said, the application wasn’t that belated. Also, the authority’s decision didn’t even address the appellant’s stated reasons for the delay. And finally, there was no sign that the authority had even considered whether there might be grounds for examining his request, “given the fact that a rejection might, in some cases, send a man to his death.”
The regulations governing asylum seekers state explicitly that if a request is filed more than a year after the applicant entered Israel, the request should be rejected out of hand. Nevertheless, they add, if the applicant cited special reasons for his belated application, his case should be considered by a designated border authority official.
For many years, this time limit wasn’t enforced. But about a month ago, Haaretz reported that the authority had begun using it for the first time to reject asylum requests on the grounds that they were filed belatedly.
As a result, it rejected almost all asylum applications by Eritrean and Sudanese migrants, even though they couldn’t have filed requests during their first year in the country because at that time Israel was granting them group protection, rather than letting them submit individual asylum requests. (Colombo Gazette)