Monitoring Policy, Litigious and Legislative Shifts in Migration and Detention in South Africa

Date: 09/06/2020

Intro paragraph:

The increase in the detention of migrants in South Africa9 and the prevalence of human rights abuses in detention processes over the last decade, greatly necessitates the effective and regular monitoring of immigration detention. Monitoring sites of detention is an essential component of democracy as it promotes “transparency and independent oversight of the public administration of the State”.

Detention and deportation remain the primary tool of immigration enforcement in South Africa. The century’s legal framework regulates the arrest and detention of individuals suspected of being undocumented immigrants and offers legal protections for asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants. Despite these protections, the results of LHR’s monitoring work reveal that detention and deportation of foreign nationals continue to be regularly carried out in an unlawful manner. Key concerns regarding detention and deportation processes include:

  • the continued arrests of newly arrived asylum seekers;
  • lack of formalised, independent oversight of immigration detention;
  • deplorable conditions of detention at detention centres;
  • the inconsistent application of procedural safeguards and statutory limits; and
  • the arrests of asylum seekers with expired documentation as a result of the partial or complete closure of RROs.

Over the last seven years, LHR’s detention monitoring has revealed a high incidence of unlawful detention, including a high frequency of the detention of minors, repeated disregard for statutory limits of detention, a high frequency of detention of asylum seekers with pending asylum claims and a disregard for court orders. This report highlights and assesses trends in these practices over the last seven years. However, over the reporting period there have also been positive developments regarding historic practices deemed unlawful. This report will also discuss these developments and the interventions that have contributed to changes in practice.


Download the full report here.

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