NEWS: Israel:Ministry prepares bill to establish foreign worker detention centers

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Subject: NEWS: Israel:Ministry prepares bill to establish foreign worker detention centers
From: Jyothi Kanics (jkanics@igc.org)
Date: Mon Jun 07 1999 - 20:58:04 EDT


Note: This article is not directly about trafficking, but many trafficked
persons are worknig illegally and at risk for ending up in detention. Note
the NGO criticism that "the government does nothing to protect the workers
from
exploitation on the part of employees.The workers work long hours without
overtime, their salaries are often withheld, fictitious "taxes" are
deducted from their wages, etc."

Ministry prepares bill to establish foreign worker detention centers
By Dan Izenberg
The Jerusalem Post, June 6, 1999

The Interior Ministry has prepared a bill to establish detention centers
for illegal foreign workers awaiting deportation. Until now, since the
government began its clampdown on illegal foreign workers almost three
years ago, it has kept them in jail under difficult conditions.

The bill was made available to the media last week even though it has not
yet been approved by the cabinet. The bill, an amendment to the Entry to
Israel Law, obliges the authorities to bring the detainee before a special
court if he is still in the country two weeks after his detention. It makes
provisions for releasing illegal workers on bail until their expulsion if
they meet certain conditions. It also establishes the fact that illegal
workers must pay for their upkeep in the detention center until they are
deported.

In its preface to the amendment, the ministry wrote that the country has
been swamped by illegal workers over the past years, and that in August
1996 the government decided to take drastic action to reduce the number.

Since then, it has found that the provisions of the current Entry to Israel
Law are insufficient to deal with the scope of the problem, the ministry
wrote. Furthermore, comments and decisions by the courts have made it
necessary to make certain changes.

Miriam Darmoni-Sharvit, a spokeswoman for the human rights organization Hot
Line for Migrant Workers, welcomed the legislation but said it is just one
in a list of laws and regulations which must be passed in order to resolve
the problems of foreign workers.

She said the government does nothing to protect the workers from
exploitation on the part of employees: The workers work long hours without
overtime, their salaries are often withheld, fictitious "taxes" are
deducted from their wages, etc.

Darmoni-Sharvit also criticized the bill's stipulation to make the workers
pay for their stay in the detention center. "Most of these people are
penniless," she said. The workers are also supposed to pay for their flight
home.

She said the jail conditions which the illegal workers have endured until
now have been harsh. There are up to 300 migrants workers currently locked
up in Maasiyahu and Neveh Tirza prisons. In Maasiyahu, eight to 10 men are
confined to small cells throughout the day and night, except for one hour
of yard exercise. Most of the women are locked up with regular criminals.

The average detention period is one month for those detained by Ministry of
Labor and Social Affairs inspectors, and two months for those detained by
the police, said Darmoni-Sharvit.


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