Court rules in favour of asylum seeking children

2015-07-10 20:04

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Johannesburg - The High Court in Pretoria has ruled that foreign children who enter South Africa with a relative who qualifies as an asylum seeker should be included as a dependent.

The ruling was made on Thursday, said Zita Hansungule of the Centre for Child Law in a statement. 

"This gives the child immediate protection and ensures that they are not separated from people with whom they have a relationship," she said. 

The ruling came about after the Centre for Child Law and the Lawyers for Human Rights took on the case of a 16-year-old boy who had entered South Africa with his aunt after he was orphaned during the conflict in the Congo. 

The aunt excluded him in her asylum seeker permit because he was not her biological child. 

"This meant that, although he qualified to apply for asylum he had no papers and thus battled to get access to education and health services," said Hansungule. 

The department of home affairs opposed the boy's application before the courts. The department agreed that while children who entered the country needed protection and services, there was a risk that they were victims of trafficking. 

The court said it recognised that there may be risks, but that the risks to a child who was undocumented were greater. 

It highlighted that the inclusion of the child in the asylum seeker permit would ensure his or her protection from the earliest possible opportunity.

The court also said the matter may take a while to be finalised in the children's court, thus preventing the child from immediate access to education and other essential services. 

Read more on:    home affairs

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