The Order to report to the “Holot” detention facility

The order issued to Eritrean and Sudanese workers to report to the “Holot” Detention Facility – Questions and answers relating to cancellation of the order

What is the “Holot” facility and who receives an order to report to it?

The “Holot” facility, or as it officially known according to the authorities “The Holot Detention Center for Illegal Aliens” is a type of “open detention center” in the Negev to which refugees from Eritrea and Sudan have recently been sent at the order of the Ministry of the Interior.  The refugees are required to report to the center three times a day and attend a roll call and are also required to remain at the center during the night.  Since the facility is far from any large, central town or city, plus the fact that the refugees and asylum seekers are required to report three times a day, this in fact means that they cannot live a free life and, in practice, become prisoners.

In a number of reports from within the camp, inmates reported disgraceful internment conditions, shortages of food, eating utensils, overcrowding and more.

Those who are ordered to report to the center are mainly Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers who fled from their countries because their lives were in danger and who entered Israel over the past few years.  The facility began operating recently as a “replacement” for the “Saharonim” prison at Ktsi’ot where asylum seekers had been detained by the State under the authority of the previous amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law.

The High Court of Justice, when hearing the case of Adam (as known as “HCJ Adam”), overruled the law that allowed the imprisonment of refugees for three years.  In its decision, the condition of Eritrean refugees was described in the following manner:

“According to UN reports, there exists a consistent and wide ranging violation of human rights on the part of the [Eritrean] Government.  These violations include executions without trial; a policy of opening fire with the intention of killing those attempting to leave the state’s borders; the disappearance of civilians and imprisonment without informing families; imprisonment and arbitrary arrests; the extensive use of physical and psychological torture during interrogations by the police and security services; inhuman conditions of imprisonment; extensive, unlimited periods of compulsory army service during which brutal punishments are used which in turn can lead to suicide; violations of human rights such as the right of free speech, the right of assembly, organization religion and movement; discrimination against women and sexual violence; violations of children’s rights including the conscription of children and more”.

Following the “HCJ Adam” case, a new law was passed which led to the establishment of the “Holot” facility.  As of today, the High Court has yet to rule with regard to another petition that contests the legality of the facility.

Can the order to report be revoked?

Yes.  In a number of petitions laid before the courts over the past few months, the court revoked orders issued to workers to report to the facility and also ordered that their visas be renewed.

What should be done in order to revoke the order?

First, the Ministry of the Interior’s Enforcement Division should be contacted and a demand made to revoke the order.  If the demand is not met or refused, a petition should be presented to the Court for Administrative Matters that asks the court to revoke the order.

Should a worker who receives an order to report to the “Holot” facility be paid compensation?

Yes. A worker who receives an order to report to the “Holot” facility is entitled to severance pay.  In the past, the State declared that it would not enforce employment regulations on employers of asylum seekers, a form of “silent agreement” that would allow the refugees to work but without issuing them a work permit.

However, the State will take action against employers who employ refugees and asylum seekers who have been ordered to report to “Holot”.  Therefore, an order issued to workers to report and stay at the “Holot” facility also harms the employers.  The negative impact on employers arises from the fact that they now need to do without these employees, who have accumulated experience and skills at their work and also because they must pay severance pay even though they had no intention of firing the employees.