SAHRC welcomes refugee ruling

2013-03-20 07:19
Western Cape High Court (File)

Western Cape High Court (File)

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Cape Town - The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has welcomed the Western Cape High Court's ruling on Tuesday that a refugee reception office (RRO) be re-opened by the department of home affairs.

"The SAHRC has been receiving complaints from asylum seekers on this issue and in September 2012 was approached by 80 asylum seekers, including children, seeking relief from actions of department of home affairs," it said.

"The complainants alleged, among others, that they are the new applicants who have unsuccessfully been attempting to legalise their status with the department of home affairs... [and] that they have been physically thrown out of the reception centre."

Decision unlawful

On Tuesday, Judge Owen Rogers declared unlawful a decision to close the Maitland office to new applicants for asylum after June 2012.

He ordered the department to have an RRO open and fully functional within the Cape Town metro by 1 July.

Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor and three respondents were ordered to pay the costs of the applicants, plus that of two counsel.

The application was brought by the Scalabrini Centre, a non-profit organisation which assists migrant communities and displaced people.

In July, the centre obtained an interim court order requiring that the department assist all asylum seekers, after it refused to accept new applications.

The department applied for leave to appeal the order, but this was dismissed in August.

It had stated that the closure was not planned, and was due to the expiry of the lease.

The People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (Passop) said hundreds of asylum seekers had been unable to get documentation since June and lived in fear of being detained and deported to countries where their lives and freedom were at risk.

Read more on:    passop  |  sahrc  |  home affairs  |  cape town  |  refugees

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