State Must Return Pay Taken from Asylum Seekers

Photo by Tom Raviv

In March of 2017, on behalf of seven asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan, The Worker’s Hotline for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, Assaf - Aid Organization for Refugees, The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the African Refugee Development Center and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel petitioned to the High Court of Justice against the “Deposit” Law.

Today, justice was done, and the petition filed three years ago has come to a close. During these past three years, asylum seekers paid a heavy price due to this law that pushed them into deep poverty and deprivation. This law allowed employers to violate asylum seekers’ rights to a fair wage and dignified existence. This law, born out of hate, and whose sole purpose was to expel people who sought refuge from persecution, gave employers cover to withdraw money from their employees’ paychecks and instead of depositing it into the designated fund, many committed daily theft – this law has now been repealed.

During this dire time in which the significance of one’s paycheck has increased, this ruling gives us hope and warms the heart. We are thrilled for all asylum seekers, who will get their money back, and who have received the recognition of the wrong that was done to them.

Deposit Law Background:

In 2017,  Israel established a special fund comprised of an employer’s deposit at the level of 16 percent of the base salary, constituting a type of substitute for pension and compensation payments, together with a deduction of 20 percent from workers’ salaries. The claim was that these funds would be returned to the asylum seekers upon their leaving Israel. The goal was to drive the asylum seekers into poverty, incentivizing them to leave the country. Thus the asylum seekers were deprived of one-fifth of their salary. Moreover, due to structural problems in the procedure established by Israel for the receipt of this money, most asylum seekers who left Israel, did so without receiving the money deposited in the fund.

HCJ 2293/17

For further information (Hebrew)

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