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Scalabrini’s ‘abandonment’ court case challenges constitutionality of South African refugee laws

Source: Scalabrini Centre, 28/11/2020

On 28 October 2020, the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, represented by Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc, is in the Western Cape High Court, seeking to interdict the Department of Home Affairs from implementing or operating specific provisions related to the deemed abandonment of asylum applications, which provisions were implemented with the coming into effect of the Refugees Amendment Act and Regulations from 1 January 2020.
Scalabrini Centre, in its own right as well as in the public interest, has brought a constitutional challenge against certain provisions in the Refugees Amendment Act and Refugees Regulations, which came into effect on 1 January 2020. The specific provisions being challenged are those relating to the ‘deemed abandonment’ of asylum applications simply because the asylum applicant is a month or more late in renewing their asylum document. In this challenge, Scalabrini Centre has first sought an interdict against the Department of Home Affairs, stopping the Department from implementing or applying the specific provisions. This interdict is to ensure that anyone who may have, or might still, fall foul of those provisions is protected against refoulement pending the final hearing of the main matter ` the constitutional challenge of the impugned provisions.
Today, 28 October 2020, Scalabrini Centre is in court to argue why the interdict is necessary pending the finalisation of the main matter. The Department of Home Affairs has opposed the interdictory relief being sought by Scalabrini Centre. It has also opposed the constitutional challenge.
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