Improved refugee travel document launched

2017-11-22 06:02

IN another major step towards better refugee and asylum-seeking management, the Department of Home Affairs introduced a hugely improved refugee travel document this month.

The new version machine-readable travel document for refugees has been designed and developed using the latest passport production technology and security standards to include a pure polycarbonate data-page for personalisation by laser engraving.

According to a statement, the earlier version was introduced in 2009, but the new version was necessitated after the UNHCR and ICAO published comprehensive international guidelines.

“Machine-readable travel documents are more secure because security considerations play an ever-increasing role due to the risks of document and identity fraud. They not only increase security and trust among states, but also enhance the level of confidence in the users, in this case, refugees, who will travel with them,” the statement said.

“They facilitate the safe and regular movement of refugees and thereby reduce the risk of exploitation, abuse, violence and human trafficking.”

The improved refugee travel document has the following new features:

  • Enhanced security features enabled by more advanced production technology.
  • The name of the document has been changed from passport to travel document.
  • The following return class has been inserted, “The holder is authorised to return to the Republic of South Africa within the period of validity specified in this document.”
  • A page (30) has been included to add the names of the parents of a refugee child to minimise the risks such as abduction and child trafficking. It will, however, be left blank for now until the finalisation of the enhancements of the department’s National Immigration Information System.
  • The amendment of the endorsement to specify the applicant’s country of origin in the travel document to which he/she is not allowed to travel.

Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Fatima Chohan, said, “We are giving further effect to our strong human rights culture that was introduced from 1994 to replace the crime of apartheid while ensuring that the right to security for citizens, as well as migrants, are upheld.”

“As a country, we must strike a balance between our humanitarian values and our responsibility to ensure safety and security for all citizens and migrants alike,” she said.

Holders of valid refugee travel documents will still be allowed to use the existing travel documents until the date of expiry. The document will be valid for the same period of the validity of the Section 24 refugee permit.

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