Govt must explain visa issue: SAHRC

2011-10-05 22:08

Wits marches for Dalai Lama

2011-10-05 16:51

Lecturers and students gathered at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg to demonstrate against Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama's visa debacle.WATCH

Cape Town - The government has a constitutional obligation to explain its actions in the Dalai Lama's visa application, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said on Wednesday.

It voiced concern over unexplained delays in processing the Tibetan spiritual leader's visa application.

"Government has a constitutional obligation to provide reasons for its actions or inaction," the SAHRC said in a statement.

"Failure to provide reasons and an explanation for its handling of this matter raises very serious concerns about a discriminatory application of its power, a lack of commitment to transparency and to enabling freedom of speech within our country."

The SAHRC asked why it was that a well-known international figure who posed no security threat and had a record held in high regard by the international community had failed to have his visa processed in an expeditious manner.

By providing an explanation, government might be able to avoid being regarded as willing to sacrifice the country's commitment to human rights values, the commission said.

The visa would have enabled the Dalai Lama to visit South Africa this week to participate in the celebration of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday.

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