Submission on the Refugees Amendment Bill, 2015
Lawyers for Human Rights (“LHR”) is an independent human rights organisation with a 35-year track record of human rights activism and public interest litigation in South Africa. LHR uses the law as a positive instrument for change and to deepen the democratisation of South African society. LHR welcomes the opportunity to make submissions on the Refugees Amendment Bill, 2015. We note that this is the second Amendment Bill (“the Bill”) which has been introduced this year. These submissions will be confined to the Bill which appeared in the Government Gazette Vol. 602, No. 39067 of 6 August 2015.
We note that the original date for submissions was 31 August 2015. We appreciate the extension granted to us by one week (7 September 2015).
LHR has a number of concerns regarding the amendments to the principal Act introduced in this Bill. These changes represent a wholesale change to refugee protection and adjudications in South Africa and present a massive deviation from the urban refugee policy. The urban refugee policy has been the cornerstone of refugee protection in South Africa since the inception of refugee protection in South Africa in 1993. The development of this policy and the Refugees Act of 1998 was the result of widespread public consultations with stakeholders, government departments and civil society during the Green and White paper process of the mid-1990’s. We submit that changes of this nature to refugee and asylum policy should be based on a similar consultation process.
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