Israel abandons plan to forcibly deport African migrants

The government had been working for months on an arrangement to expel thousands of mostly Eritrean and Sudanese men. (AFP)
Updated 24 April 2018
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Israel abandons plan to forcibly deport African migrants

  • The government had been working for months on an arrangement to expel thousands of mostly Eritrean and Sudanese men
  • Around 4,000 migrants have left Israel for Rwanda and Uganda since 2013

JERUSALEM: The Israeli government said on Tuesday it was abandoning a plan to forcibly deport African migrants who entered the country illegally.
The government had been working for months on an arrangement to expel thousands of mostly Eritrean and Sudanese men who crossed into Israel through Egypt’s Sinai desert.
“At this stage, the possibility of carrying out an unwilling deportation to a third country is not on the agenda,” the government wrote in a response to the court.
The migrants, it said, will again be able to renew residency permits every 60 days, as they were before the deportation push.
The migrants and rights groups say they are seeking asylum and are fleeing war and persecution. The government says they are job seekers and that it has every right to protect its borders.
Around 4,000 migrants have left Israel for Rwanda and Uganda since 2013 under a voluntary program, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under pressure from his right-wing voter base to expel thousands more.
After leaving a UN-backed relocation plan a few weeks ago, Israel shifted efforts toward finalizing an arrangement to send the migrants against their will to Uganda.
A number of migrant rights groups petitioned the Supreme Court to block any such policy.


Egypt says plane hijacker extradited from Cyprus

Updated 26 min 44 sec ago
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Egypt says plane hijacker extradited from Cyprus

  • Police said Seif Eddin Mustafa, escorted by Egyptian authorities, boarded an EgyptAir flight to Cairo on Saturday evening
  • Seif Eddin Mustafa hijacked the EgyptAir flight in March 2016 using a fake suicide belt and diverted it to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus

NICOSIA, Cyprus: An Egyptian man who hijacked a domestic EgyptAir flight in 2016 and ordered it to land in Cyprus to allegedly protest Egypt’s military-backed government has been extradited to his homeland after giving up a drawn-out legal fight, authorities said Sunday.
Police said Seif Eddin Mustafa, escorted by Egyptian authorities, boarded an EgyptAir flight to Cairo on Saturday evening.
Cyprus Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou told The Associated Press that Mustafa’s extradition went ahead after he dropped a three-year court battle to avoid extradition.
Doros Polycarpou, with the migrant support group KISA that assisted Mustafa, told the AP that the 62-year-old decided of his own accord to return to Egypt and face prosecution there, despite fears that he may be tortured.
Polycarpou said Mustafa told his legal team he was willing “to take the risk” of suffering maltreatment at the hands of Egyptian authorities because he could “no longer take” his holding conditions in Cyprus’ prison complex.
He said Mustafa had complained that he was being held in “isolation” and put under “psychological strain” because authorities kept him away from the prison’s general population.
Mustafa’s change-of-heart stands in stark contrast to his vociferous fight against extradition to Egypt on the grounds that he could face torture or an unfair trial there.
Last year, the European Court of Human Rights blocked Cyprus from extraditing Mustafa until it could rule on whether doing so would violate its prohibition about returning individuals to countries where they may face torture or inhuman treatment.
Mustafa hijacked the EgyptAir flight in March 2016 using a fake suicide belt and diverted it to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. A six-hour standoff with Cypriot authorities on the tarmac of Cyprus’ Larnaca airport ended peacefully after all 72 passengers and crew were released and Mustafa was arrested.
Mustafa told a Cypriot court that he meant no harm to anyone. He said he was trying to expose what he called the “fascist regime” of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and to help secure the release of 63 female dissidents being held in Egyptian prisons.
But prosecutors said Mustafa admitted in a written statement to police that he only carried out the hijacking in order to reunite with his Cypriot family.