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

  •    Statistics SA`s analysis of tourist arrivals between 2013 and 2014 fails to take into account that 2013 tourist arrival figures included transit passengers, while for 2014 these were excluded.... Read more...
  •    A retirement visa can be granted for 4 years to someone with a monthly pension, irrevocable annuity or retirement account of R37 000 from a net worth/combination of assets realizing R37 000 per month and wishes to retire temporarily or permanently in South Africa.... Read more...
  •    A retirement visa can be granted for 4 years to someone with a monthly pension, irrevocable annuity or retirement account of R37 000 from a net worth/combination of assets realizing R37 000 per month and wishes to retire temporarily or permanently in South Africa.... Read more...
  •    There has been much confusion surrounding the amendments to the unbridged birth certificate (UBC) requirements for visitors coming to South Africa from abroad, as gazetted on November 30, and coming into effect on December 1.... Read more...
  •    We have written in our newsletter on previous occasions about the unnecessary delays in processing not only Temporary Residence Visas but also Permanent Residence Visas.... Read more...
  •    IN a surprise turn of events, the Eastern Cape Department of Education has agreed to allow 37 children to attend schools despite them not having birth certificates. This change of heart comes as the department is due to face judges of the Constitutional Court to answer to the fact that the children have not attended school this year.... Read more...
  •    For many years, asylum seekers attempting to claim benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) have routinely been turned away by the Department of Labour, despite having made contributions to the Fund during their employment.... Read more...
  •    The Department of Home Affairs says it will pilot new e-gates at a number of South African airports in 2019. A spokesperson told BusinessTech that the gates will first be piloted at Cape Town International Airport and will form part of the implementation of the Biometric Movement Control System (BMCS). He added that a further rollout will be done in a phased approach, with Oliver Tambo and King Shaka International airports to follow. “The broad objective of the project is the facilitation of movement of low-risk travellers through a self-service solution, hence freeing capacity for the assessment of high-risk categories by an immigration officer,” the spokesperson said.... Read more...
  •    The home affairs committee criticised the department for its decision to grant VFS a two-year extension, saying it violates regulations Parliament`s home affairs portfolio committee has called on home affairs minister Siyabonga Cwele to review the department’s contract with VFS global.... Read more...
  •    For every skilled professional coming to South Africa, eight are leaving. This was the major finding of an Enterprise Observatory of South Africa (EOSA) report released in January. The researchers found that while a large number of white professionals were making the jump, in recent years, the annual number of black professionals leaving South Africa exceeds the tally of professional white emigrants.... Read more...

Get the latest Immigration News