Security Prisoner
Security Detainee
Administrative Detainee

After five years of delays, disregard and superfluous demands: the interior ministry has issued a residence and work visa to a stateless young woman, a lifelong inhabitant of East Jerusalem. But she still has no passport on which the visa can be stamped

On April 6, 1992, a newborn baby was found at the doorstep of an East Jerusalem orphanage, with nothing to identify her. The director of orphanage, an Israeli resident Palestinian, took the baby into her care, raised her as a daughter, and was appointed as her guardian by an order of the Sharia Court. In the absence of a birth certificate, the guardian was unable to have the baby listed in the Israeli population register and the child remained without status in the world – exposed to detentions, arrests and deportation, without the right to study or work, and with no social security rights.

On February 14, 2008 – when the child was approaching age 16 – HaMoked applied to the Ministry of Interior requesting she be granted status in Israel. HaMoked noted, inter alia, that the girl had been living in the orphanage since shortly after birth; that all her ties were to East Jerusalem; and that under Israeli law, she should be given the same status as her guardian.

In response, the interior ministry notified that the girl's registration was subject to obtaining a declaratory ruling of the Family Court as to her name, date and place of birth, and that there was no way of knowing who her biological parents were. The interior ministry also raised doubts as to the guardianship of the orphanage director. Accordingly, in November 2008, HaMoked applied to the Family Court for a declaratory ruling on the girl's date of birth, the director's guardianship and the fact that the identity of her parents and her place of birth could not be determined.

Due to disagreements between HaMoked and the state over the substance of the requested declarations, in January 2010, the Court issued a partial ruling which determined the girl's date of birth, and shortly after, also her name.

Renewing the process for legalizing the woman's status
In February 2010, following the partial ruling, HaMoked requested the interior ministry to resume processing the status application, filed back in February 2008. Only in September 2011, the interior ministry held a hearing for the young woman and her guardian, but no response followed.

On December 7, 2011, in a Family Court hearing on the declaratory application, HaMoked learnt that the case had been transferred to the inter-ministerial committee on humanitarian affairs at the interior ministry.

The application for administrative relief
Six months later, as no decision arrived, HaMoked filed an application for non-response to the appellate committee for foreigners. HaMoked asserted that the interior ministry's conduct was in violation of its obligation as an administrative authority to act fairly, reasonably and with due haste, and added that the prolonged delay of decision was grossly injurious to the young woman's rights to health, education, family life, and freedom of movement. HaMoked also stressed that Israel was obligated under international law to legalize her status.

The interior ministry withheld its response to this application also, in disregard of the timetable set for the purpose by the committee.

The petition
In September 2012, without a response from the interior ministry or a decision by the appellate committee, HaMoked filed an administrative petition to the Court for Administrative Affairs to instruct the interior ministry to approve the status request at once, and grant the young woman permanent status in Israel. HaMoked argued that by ignoring the applications, the interior ministry was violating the basic right to a nationality, deriving from the basic human rights to dignity and liberty. HaMoked added that it is the status of nationality which enables equality before the law, political participation, the realization of the rights to health and work, and access to emergency services and socio-economic resources.

Only after the petition was filed, the inter-ministerial committee on humanitarian affairs issue its decision. Four years and 8 months after her status application was first submitted, the interior ministry decided to grant her a visa type B-1, intended for migrant workers. Recall, the young woman has no status in the world, no identification documents, to say nothing of a passport on which the interior ministry can stamp the visa it has granted.

HaMoked will continue handling the case, and will appeal against the committee's bizarre decision. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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