PRESS STATEMENT | LHR at the Supreme Court of Appeal Addressing Systemic Failures of Asylum Adjudication System

Date: 19/08/2021

Today, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) will appear in the Supreme Court of Appeal in the matter of The Somali Association of South Africa & 8 Others v the Refugee Appeal Board & Others Case No.: 585/2020, which seeks to address systemic failures within the asylum adjudication system.  LHR will make submissions to the Supreme Court of Appeal highlighting that through their application for asylum, the eight applicants experienced woefully inadequate decision-making, with each applicant’s decision repeating the same errors of law, verbatim, down to the same spelling and grammatical mistakes.  Additionally, each of the applicants’ decisions were tainted by many of the same errors that have been previously condemned by the courts, including the Constitutional Court.

The applicants seek an order recognising them as refugees and directing the Minister of Home Affairs and the Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs to investigate the pattern of errors and address repeated and systemic defects in the Refugee Appeal Board’s (now known as the Refugee Appeals Authority of South Africa) decision-making process that are raised in this application, and to formulate plans to address these problems coupled with an obligation to report on their findings.

Through LHR’s work in its law clinics, LHR has identified that the applicants’ experiences are not unique but rather reoccurring and are experienced by many asylum seekers across South Africa.  The court will hear argument about how these flaws in the adjudication process of asylum applications have led to systemic dysfunction within the asylum system.

In the Auditor General’s most recent report dated February 2020, it was held that the Refugee Appeals Authority of South Africa experienced backlogs of nearly 150 000 cases  (compared to 893 during the 2007 audit), which would take 68 years to clear without taking new cases.

LHR hopes the outcome of this matter will have a significant impact on decision making at both the Refugee Status Determination Officer and Refugee Appeals Authority level and address some of the issues which have contributed to the backlog in appeals cases.  Additionally, we hope that the outcome will also foster accountability, transparency, and fair decision making.

For more information contact:

Jessica Lawrence

Phone: 011 339 1960 / 082 772 9857


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