“Slavery Law” Passes Final Vote

An amendment to the Israel Entry Law – infamously known as the “Slavery Law” –passed its final vote in Knesset on Monday, 16 May 2011, in a 26-6 vote, despite wide opposition from human rights organizations and leading legal experts. The law was passed on the very first day of the Knesset’s Summer Session.
The new law severely harms fundamental human rights of approximately 55,000 migrant workers in the nursing professions in Israel, the majority of which are women. The law enables the Minister of Interior to restrict the number of times a migrant caregiver can change employers, to limit workers to specific geographical areas, and to confine them to specific subsections of the nursing services. The amendment constitutes an attempt to circumvent the High Court of Justice and to restore an earlier “binding arrangement” of migrant workers to their employers, which the High Court has already criticized in 2006 for “creating a modern form of slavery” following a petition by five human rights organizations.
During the Knesset’s recess in the past month, ACRI and other organizations have worked together and generated some public discussion regarding this pending bill – having initiated a powerful letter by Israeli jurists, followed by a support letter by American-Jewish counterparts (organized by the New Israel Fund) and a subsequent letter from Israeli public opinion leaders – all condemning the bill for severely violating basic human rights, and urging decision-makers to stop it.
Attorney Oded Feller, Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI): “Almost 150 years after the United States has abolished slavery, the State of Israel is about to adopt it in its legislation. A law that binds migrant workers to their employers and makes it harder for them to leave an employer will turn migrant workers into slaves with no rights. The result will be abuse of migrant workers and the creation of a legal system that is an open invitation for exploitation.”
Attorney Reut Michaeli, Hotline for Migrant Workers: “Just this week we got a complaint from a Filipina caretaker, who discovered that her employer planted a hidden camera in her bedroom. Because of this new law, this worker and many others like her will find it difficult to leave employers and will have to give in to even the most demeaning employment conditions.”
Attorney Hanny Ben Israel, Kav LaOved: “This law will undermine the ability of migrant caregivers to escape from abusive working conditions. The law harms the most basic rights of migrant caregivers, who are more exposed to violence and to sexual abuse by their employers.”
Further background
About the “Slavery Law” and other new bills targeting foreign residents in Israel.
English translation of the Supreme Court ruling against the “binding arrangement” (2006)
English translation of the letter published by 53 Israeli legal experts condemning the “Slavery Law” (March 2011)
Letter signed by 91 prominent American-Jewish legal experts urging Prime Minister Netanyahu to prevent the “Slavery Law” from passing the final reading in the Knesset (May 2011)

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Categories: Anti-Democratic Initiatives, Citizenship and Residency, Democracy and Civil Liberties, Labor Rights, Migrant Workers, Social and Economic Rights, Women's Rights

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5 Responses to “Slavery Law” Passes Final Vote

  1. Pingback: » “Slavery Law” passes final vote in Israeli parliament

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  5. Sheila Smith כתב:

    This law called the “slavery Law” is especially odious because it is directed against women more than men. Where is the humanity?