Lawyers for Human Rights Submission on the Refugees Amendment Bill
Policy/Legislation number:Government Gazette Vol. 602, No. 39067 of 6 August 2015.
LHR welcomes the opportunity to make submissions on the Refugees Amendment Bill, 2015. We note that this is the second Amendment Bill (“the Bill”) which has been introduced this year.
LHR has a number of concerns regarding the amendments to the principal Act introduced in this Bill. These changes represent a wholesale change to refugee protection and adjudications in South Africa and present a massive deviation from the urban refugee policy. The urban refugee policy has been the cornerstone of refugee protection in South Africa since the inception of refugee protection in South Africa in 1993.
The development of this policy and the Refugees Act of 1998 was the result of widespread public consultations with stakeholders, government departments and civil society during the Green and White paper process of the mid-1990’s. We submit that changes of this nature to refugee and asylum policy should be based on a similar consultation process.
We are aware that, at the same time as these legislative changes are being introduced to Parliament, the Minister of Home Affairs has engaged in a migration policy review. As part of this review, LHR was invited to attend the Migration Policy Colloquium which took place at Kiewietskroon Estate on 30 June and 1 July 2015.
The substance of the amendments contained in the Bill are such that they will drastically change refugee protection in South Africa and the rights accorded to refugees and asylum seekers. We are surprised that such amendments are being introduced before the Green paper is introduced in March 2016 and the White Paper process is finalised before the end of 2016, as stated by the Minister at the Colloquium.
Considering the changes which are being considered in the above process, we submit that such drastic changes to asylum and refugee policy should be considered within the context of that process and introducing such changes at this point is counter-productive and anathema to the consultation process already underway.
We submit that at this stage of development of the asylum adjudication process, it would be better to focus internally on capacity development and efficiency as a means to prevent abuse of the system. At present, research has shown that the level of decision-making lacks quality and does not meet the basic standards of administrative justice.
Read our full submission: