November 12, 2008

II. Recommendations

To the Government of Egypt

  • Order border police to use lethal force only as a proportional and necessary response to a threat to life.
  • Conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the reported fatal shootings and beatings of 33 Sudanese and other African migrants, and make the results public. Prosecute any officer identified as having unlawfully killed or injured any migrants, or given orders to do so, and hold accountable any official with oversight responsibility for such incidents.
  • Cease using military tribunals to try civilian migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers detained in the Sinai.
  • Guarantee UNHCR access to all asylum seekers and refugees in official custody, as well as to migrants not yet registered with UNHCR who have international protection needs, and guarantee to detained migrants (including migrants who have not yet registered with UNHCR), the ability to contact UNHCR.
  • Grant UNHCR unhindered, ongoing access to all detention centers, including those in security zones in the Sinai and near the border with Sudan.
  • Cease deporting detained migrants until a system guaranteeing such access to UNHCR is fully functional, and ensure that this system is operational in all detention facilities in which migrants and refugees are detained, including but not limited to those in the Aswan, New Valley, Red Sea, and North Sinai governorates.
  • Cease detaining children in regular jails, and pursue alternatives in line with international standards that protect family unity and promote the child's best interests.
  • Allow external monitoring of conditions of detention at detention facilities where irregular border-crossers are held, in particular in the Sinai and along the southern border with Sudan.
  • Pursue an agreement with Israel to allow for the reunification of families of refugees and migrants separated at the border.
  • Consider steps to allow the local integration of refugees and asylum seekers, including granting refugees and asylum seekers the right to work, and addressing security concerns of refugee and asylum seeker communities.
  • Implement a fair refugee status determination procedure with procedural safeguards, along with an effective asylum regime, consistent with Egypt's obligations in international law.

To the Government of Israel

  • Conduct no additional "coordinated returns" to Egypt of persons who cross the Sinai border until:
    • Israel institutes a system that ensures border-crossers the ability to present asylum claims, and
    • Egypt credibly guarantees that it will (1) respect returnees' rights under international human rights and refugee law; (2) not return them to countries where they could face persecution; and (3) allow UNHCR to visit all returnees in detention and monitor their conditions.
  • Reject or substantially revise proposed legislation dealing with irregular border-crossing to remove provisions mandating immediate returns of migrants to Egypt and for mandatory minimum prison sentences for migrants who cannot be immediately returned.
  • Ensure that persons who wish to present asylum claims after crossing the Sinai border into Israel are detained only as necessary to ascertain their identity and the basis of their asylum claims, and ensure that families are not separated in detention.
  • Ensure that detention of children is in line with international standards concerning family unity and the best interests of the child.
  • Allow external monitoring of conditions at detention facilities where irregular border-crossers are held, in particular the Ketziot facility.
  • Implement a fair and expeditious refugee status determination procedure with procedural safeguards, along with an effective asylum regime, consistent with Israel's obligations in international law.
  • Cease future arrest sweeps and detentions of asylum seekers registered with UNHCR or whose status has been regularized, consistent with Israel's obligations in international law.

To UNHCR Egypt

  • Grant refugee status determination procedures to all asylum seekers, not only those with special protection needs, while continuing to grant asylum-seeker status to Sudanese in Egypt as a minimum form of protection from forcible return.
  • Work with the Egyptian government to create a system of regular visits to all detention centers where migrants are kept.
  • Work with UNHCR Israel to identify members of families of refugees and asylum seekers separated while crossing the Sinai border, with the aim of family reunification.
  • Continue periodic meetings with refugee community-based organizations and outreach to improve relations with refugee communities in Egypt.
  • Provide technical assistance to the National Assembly to develop a refugee law consistent with Egypt's accession to the Refugee Convention and Protocol, and assist the government to institute a refugee status determination procedure and asylum regime that meet international standards.

To UNHCR Israel

  • Work with UNHCR Egypt to identify members of families of refugees and asylum seekers separated while crossing the Sinai border, with the aim of family reunification.
  • Provide technical assistance to the Knesset to develop a refugee law consistent with its accession to the Refugee Convention and Protocol, and assist the government to institute refugee status determination procedures and an asylum regime that meet international standards.

To the international community

  • Consider providing more resettlement spaces for refugees in Egypt and Israel.

To the government of the United States

  • Ensure that no funding, training, or weapons are supplied to units of Egyptian border police responsible for using lethal force against migrants, asylum seekers, or refugees.