Home Affairs Dept accused of unlawful, cruel practices

Lawyers for Human Rights say the department has been disregarding court orders to open a fully-fledged refugee reception centres in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

FILE: Refugees protesting against the reception centre in Maitland. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Lawyers for Human Rights has written an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa claiming Home Affairs is guilty of unlawful and cruel practices and policies.

It comes as the world marks World Refugee Day.

Among its complaints, the independent human rights organisation says the department has been disregarding court orders to open a fully-fledged refugee reception centres in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

Lawyers for Human Rights says there are hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers whose applications for refugee status have not been finalised.

It says South Africa is reported to have the largest backlog in the world.

The organisation’s Marilyn Budow says many asylum seekers in South Africa are left in limbo for years.

She adds refugees must travel long distances to have their permits extended and wait a long time for a final decision.

“What has been happening in the last couple of months is that when people go to renew their permits, they’re not given a permit renewal as they’re required to in law. They get a stamp on the back, which says nothing other than a day and when they go back on that date, which may be two weeks or a month later, they get another stamp.”

Budow says asylum seekers, who arrive without passports, are unlawfully denied the right to apply for asylum and are left undocumented and unrecorded.

Lawyers for Human Rights believes Home Affairs is in crisis and is calling on the president to address the concerns.

READ: Open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa on refugees

Lawyers for Human Rights PDF by Primedia Broadcasting on Scribd

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)