Dept unlawfully detaining people - group

2012-09-19 19:01
Minister of home affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. (AFP)

Minister of home affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Video

Officials deny shutting down refugee centre

2012-08-02 10:53

Western Cape Home Affairs officials have denied shutting down the refugee centre in the province. They say the centre was instead forced to close down after the building's landlord refused to renew the lease. Home Affairs in this region, says it's had problems securing property for years.WATCH

Johannesburg - The home affairs department is unlawfully detaining refugees and migrants and forcing costly court actions to fight for their release, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) said on Wednesday.

"The detention of refugees and migrants is carried out in an unlawful manner," said LHR refugee and migrant rights programme head Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh.

"Despite repeated engagement with [the department] we've encountered a lot of difficulty in releasing people without resorting to the courts," said Ramjathan-Keogh.

She was speaking at the release in Johannesburg of an LHR report, "Monitoring Detention in South Africa".

LHR attorney Thandeka Duma said home affairs "seemed to have dysfunctional internal systems".

Home affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa declined to comment on the report as the department had not yet read it.

"We've not had sight of that report to enable us to comment intelligently," Mamoepa said.

"However, the department remains committed to discharging its mandate within the framework of the law, the Constitution, and the framework of international obligations."

Immigration Act


Duma said that under the Refugees Act, asylum seekers were allowed to move freely while their applications were being considered. They were allowed to remain in the country until the entire application process, including appeals, was exhausted.

However, the department in many cases was only using the Immigration Act, which allowed for detaining undocumented migrants, in contravention of previous court rulings.

"Courts ruled [the department] will not read the Immigration Act in isolation," Duma said.

She said the department maintained it was adhering to the law.

"However, this claim is totally contradicted by the evidence in this report and elsewhere," Duma said.

She said attempts to intervene with the department for the release of improperly detained migrants and refugees had been unsuccessful, forcing LHR to seek recourse in the courts.

Court

In the year covered by the report - February 2011 to March 2012 - LHR won 18 of its cases and secured the release of 41 improperly detained people, a win rate of about 95%.

LHR was also awarded costs - although less than it believed was owed -and this was a significant cost to the state.

"We are of the view that such costs are a waste of taxpayer money," Duma said.

"The court should hold home affairs' officials personally responsible for court orders that are not followed," Duma said.

Monitoring

She said LHR, along with many other NGOs, had been denied access to immigration facilities, such as the Lindela repatriation centre in Krugersdorp, and was only able to meet clients outside it.

"We are also concerned by the continued lack of independent monitoring in immigration detention facilities."

The SA Human Rights Commission was the only body allowed in and had not released a report on conditions inside Lindela since 2000, she said.

SAHRC legal consultant Sugne Niemann said the organisation had inspected Lindela earlier this year and made regular visits.

The SAHRC provincial office said their visit to Lindela was to investigate complaints lodged against the repatriation centre in the past year and was focused on access to healthcare for detainees.

Recommendations


"We have already begun the preliminary baseline monitoring and should have a preliminary report in place by December," the Gauteng SAHRC said in an e-mailed response to questions.

The SAHRC said each complaint was being treated on its own merits and would have different timelines for outcomes.

"We should, however, mention that we have already made recommendations and requested that the department of home affairs provide us with reports about conditions in Lindela," the organisation said.

"We are concerned that the department has failed to reply to our request... for a response."

Read more on:    home affairs department

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
11 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.