PRESS STATEMENT | Constitutional Court to Review the Refugees Act Abandonment Provision Case

Date: 24/08/2023

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) will be representing the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) today in the Constitutional Court. The focus will be on the controversial section 22(12) and (13) of the Refugees Act 130 of 1998, commonly referred to as the “abandonment provisions.”

These provisions, previously deemed unconstitutional by the Western Cape High Court, stipulate that asylum seekers failing to renew their visas within a month post-expiry are considered to have “abandoned” their asylum applications. The case now seeks the Constitutional Court’s confirmation of the High Court’s judgment.

CoRMSA’s pivotal intervention in the High Court highlighted the real-life implications of these provisions. Emphasizing the detrimental effects, particularly on vulnerable populations like women and children, CoRMSA presented the compelling narratives of two individual asylum seekers who faced severe consequences due to unforeseen circumstances. Their cases underscore the draconian consequences of the abandonment provisions, even when earnest efforts for permit renewals were undertaken.

Moreover, CoRMSA will argue that the current provisions overlook children’s best interests, failing to recognize the nuances that children, especially those seeking asylum, face. Children are inadvertently denied individualized decision-making, infringing upon their rights to representation and consideration in matters directly affecting their futures.

Furthermore, CoRMSA intends to challenge the justification of such rights restrictions. Using real-life experiences of affected asylum seekers, CoRMSA will suggest alternative, less stringent measures that align with international standards, such as Article 28 of the European Union Directive 2013/32/EU, which governs procedures for granting and revoking international protection.

This landmark case, determining the future of countless asylum seekers in South Africa, will be held at 10:00 am on Thursday, 24 August 2023, at the Constitutional Court.

For queries, please contact:

Lindokuhle Mdabe, LHR Johannesburg Clinic Manager

Tel: 011 339 1960

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