Most comply with new law

2015-08-19 06:00

SINCE the enforcement of the new child travel requirements on 1 June, largely aimed at promoting the Children’s Act and Prevention and Combatting of Trafficking in Persons Act, South African residents and foreign nationals are reported to be compliant.

That was revealed by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), overruling perceptions that the new requirements are impossible or impractical to enforce.

Observing measures for protecting children helps in ensuring minors receive consent of parents or guardians before travelling, in accordance with national legislation and international obligations for combatting abduction and trafficking in persons.

“Although a multi-year comparison aids analysis of movement, and winter school holidays may have an impact on volumes, we looked at June and July since this was when the child travel requirements kicked-in. Data on non-compliance with travel requirements is for those who reported to a port of entry, and does not include persons off-loaded by airlines,” stated the department in a press statement.

According to the DHA data systems for recording arrivals and departures at ports of entry for June, 132 353 children were processed, both arrivals and departures.

“Of these, 1 878 were recorded as having not met requirements, placing compliance levels at 98%. June arrival of foreign children was around 57 436, with departures at 74 917.

“July volume of minors’ movements was 216 259, with 2 052 not satisfying requirements, placing compliance well over 99%, showing patriotic citizens and law-abiding foreign nationals understand why it’s important to protect the most vulnerable among us – the children. July arrivals for foreign children were 128 839, with their departures at 87 420.”

The department has further noted that both Europe and the Americas showed slight increases for July (year on year) after showing slight declines for June (year on year). For instance, for Europe, 24 742 arrivals and departures (children) were recorded for July 2014, and 26 763 children for July this year, showing a slight increase of 2 021. For North and South America there is an increase from 16 641 in July 2014 to 17 144 in 2015.

“We call for more compliance and respect for the law. Where there are problems, we are ready to step in and remedy the situation to the best of our ability, and within the confines of what is permissible by law.

“Nothing beats the feeling of getting into a caring environment that’s not only safe, but feeling safe, with all checks in place for a fulfilling, memorable sojourn.”

The department reported to have noted concerns raised with regard to experiences of some travellers and was hard at work improving traveller processing and gave assurance that it was possible to resolve any unintended consequences with the support of all stakeholders.

“There is no evidence conclusively to say since the new immigration regulations took effect there’s been a sharp decline in numbers of foreign travellers arriving in South Africa and that jobs have been lost.

“When it released the 2014 tourism report on 4 August, Statistics South Africa stated that the salient characteristics of the 2014 tourists did not differ much from observations from previous years. It said in recent years, there has been a general slow-down in the rate of growth of tourists arriving in the country.”

In collaboration with tourism and other stakeholders, the DHA has reiterated its belief that much can be achieved in the interest of all concerned.

“The new regulations specific to minors, are for the protection of children and not in opposition to tourism. A birth certificate is important for identification, serves as proof of relationship of child to parents, and aids in verifying consent to travel.”

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