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...
  •    Cape Town After engaging with stakeholders the Western Cape investment agency Wesgro has set out five ways in which investor confidence can be maintained in Cape Town and the Western Cape after SA recent credit ratings downgrades by ratings agencies.... 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...
  •    Over 90% of the Department of Home Affairs offices were not operating on Saturday despite a settlement agreement reached with trade unions just over a week ago the department confirmed.... Read more...
  •    On Tuesday a parliamentary portfolio committee was set to grill Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize and director general Mkuseli Apleni over alleged malpractice in the naturalisation of Atul Gupta and his family. However Mkhize and Apleni failed to appear citing a schedule conflict.... Read more...
  •    South Africa has offered hope for refugees and asylum seekers promising to digitise its systems to make their lives easier. Home affairs deputy minister Fatima Chohan said the department would soon be introducing biometric smart cards for refugees similar to the new identity cards for South African citizens.... Read more...
  •    Cape Town - The Department of Home Affairs confirms that over 90% of DHA offices are closed on Saturday due to insufficient staff numbers which Home Affairs says is not inline with the recent settlement agreement with the Unions.... 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...
  •    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...

Get the latest Immigration News