News Articles

Bill opens asylum seekers` hearings to public

Source: Business Day, 11/08/2015

THE media and the public will now be allowed to attend asylum seekers` appeals when conducted following the adoption of the Refugee Amendment Bill. Parliament`s portfolio committee on home affairs adopted the bill last week. The bill would ease asylum seekers` appeals and refugees` applications to maintain their status in the country as it would fast-track both processes, the Department of Home Affairs said. In 2013, the Constitutional Court ruled that section 21 of the Refugee Act was unconstitutional because it restricted the media and the public`s access to refugee appeal hearings. In terms of the original act, asylum seekers` confidentiality and their information "must be ensured at all times", unless a refugee appeals authority may, on application, allow any person or the media to attend. Department of Home Affairs spokesman and deputy director-general Mayihlome Tshwete said the transparency introduced in the amendment bill protected the interests of genuine asylum seekers while filtering out those who did not have legitimate grounds to seek refugee status. "The amendments are meant to serve refugees and asylum seekers better," he said. "The system is currently being used as a loophole to enter the country. Genuine (applicants) ... suffer because they (are) viewed in the same way as those who are not genuine asylum seekers," Mr Tshwete said. But David Cote from Lawyers for Human Rights said that the organisation was concerned about the amendments to the Refugees Act, which proposed limitations to accessing the refugee system and restricting a prospective applicant`s right to work. "These limitations appear to be in direct contravention of SA`s international obligations in terms of the United Nations convention relating to refugees. "It (the bill) further introduces polygraph testing for (home affairs) officials, a wholly inadequate measure to prevent the widespread corruption within the refugee system," Mr Cote said. The amendments would have to be overhauled to ensure compliance with existing laws and obligations, he said. But Inkatha Freedom Party MP Sibongile Nkomo, who is on the committee, said: "It is important to do an assessment of who is here (in SA). If not, there will be unsavoury openings (in the country)." The amendments must now be deliberated in the National Assembly, after which they will come into effect by the end of next month.


Search

  •    THE media and the public will now be allowed to attend asylum seekers` appeals when conducted following the adoption of the Refugee Amendment Bill.... Read more...
  •    THE media and the public will now be allowed to attend asylum seekers` appeals when conducted following the adoption of the Refugee Amendment Bill.... Read more...
  •    The Border Management Agency could soon assume all functions of border control and customs and excise collection, courtesy of President Jacob Zuma’s recent cabinet reshuffle.... Read more...
  •    The proposed changes to the Refugees Amendment Bill “restricts and excludes” those seeking to work and study, according to William Kerfoot, an attorney at the Legal Resource Centre.... Read more...
  •    Cape Town - A Western Cape Cape High Court judge is facing a legal conundrum after three illegal immigrants arrested during a national clampdown Operation Fiela turned to the courts to test the lawfulness of their detention... Read more...
  •    FLAWS: ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize says elitist business models and a sluggish economy are limiting jobs.... Read more...
  •    Cape Town " The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is to review why children born in South Africa to foreign parents are not automatically awarded citizenship by the Department of Home Affairs. Advocate Priscilla Jana deputy chairperson of the SAHRC said she been unaware that unabridged birth certificates were not issued to children born to foreign parents. We will look into this matter she said.... Read more...
  •    Pretoria " A political and religious leader from the DRC turned to court for help after Home Affairs threatened to deport him back to his country to face a murder count and other related charges. Paul Mukungubila said he fled the DRC because his life was in danger and if he had to return he would suffer harm and an unfair trial.... Read more...
  •    Every day, dozens of asylum seekers queue outside the regional Home Affairs office at Customs House in Cape Town to get their temporary permits renewed. Most of them are unsuccessful.... Read more...
  •    SAs tourism sector broke records last year with the number of arrivals jumping 12.8% to a little over 10m. But while this seems impressive it is far short of the potential for a sector earmarked by government as a key driver of growth and employment. I estimate SA could be doing 20% better in terms of foreign tourist numbers says David Frost CEO of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association.... Read more...

Get the latest Immigration News