Israel accused of denying rights to Sri Lankan asylum seekers

Israel has been accused of denying rights to a group of Sri Lankan asylum seekers.

Asylum seekers have suffered violence at the hands of Israel’s Population Authority inspectors, and in some cases were not allowed to submit an asylum request, or were denied access to a telephone as required by law, according to a new report by the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants.

The NGO’s 2018 annual report, publicized on Sunday, cites testimonies from four asylum seekers who said they were beaten by the authorities, in addition to testimonies from a group from Sri Lanka who fled that country due to political persecution but were not allowed to submit an asylum request after they arrived in Israel – a violation of international law, Haaretz reported.

According to Haaretz, the report said that a border control officer refused to allow a group of Sri Lankan asylum seekers to file a formal request for asylum in Israel.

The 13 people from Sri Lanka, 11 men and two women, landed in Israel on October 28. When they arrived, they were detained at passport control and taken for an interview, during which the leader of the group explained that they had fled for their lives and were seeking protection. However, the group was told that it would be deported, regardless of whether it applied for asylum.

The new Hotline report confirms that 13 individuals were indeed political activists who had been violently attacked while in Sri Lanka by supporters of the regime, whose lives were threatened and who were facing prosecution.

The NGO’s report stressed that “until November 5, 2018, members of the Sri Lankan group were held at the Yahalom facility incommunicado, without access to their phones and with no contact with the outside world. The asylum seekers were denied the right to call their relatives and update them on their situation.”

The Population and Immigration Authority did not respond to queries. (Colombo Gazette)

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