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PRESENTATION ON ― Refugees Amendment Bill, 2010. (Select Committee on Social Services :Home Affairs) 19 October 2010. Caring, compassionate and responsive. TABLE OF CONTENTS. Caring, compassionate and responsive. 1. 2. 2. 1. PURPOSE. Caring, compassionate and responsive. 1. 3. 3.

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Presentation on refugees amendment bill 2010

PRESENTATION ON―Refugees Amendment Bill, 2010

(Select Committee on Social Services :Home Affairs)

19 October 2010

Caring, compassionate and responsive


Table of contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS

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1 purpose
1. PURPOSE

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South africa s obligations on asylum seekers and refugees
South Africa’s Obligations on Asylum Seekers and Refugees

South Africa is a signatory to the following conventions:

1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

1951 UN Convention relating to the status of Refugees;

1967 Protocol relating to status of refugees;

1969 OAU Convention governing the specific aspects of refugee problems in Africa.

1993 Basic Agreement between the Government of South Africa and the UNHCR

1996 South African constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all individuals, including refugees and asylum seekers.

The Bill of Rights entrenches the rights to human dignity, freedom and security of the person, and the right of everyone in South Africa.

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Contextualising an asylum seeker and a refugee
Contextualising an Asylum Seeker and a Refugee

An Asylum Seeker

Is a person who has fled his/her country of origin and is seeking recognition as a refugee in the Republic of South Africa, and whose application is still under consideration.

A Refugee

Is an asylum seeker who has been granted asylum status and protection in terms of the Refugees Act No 130 of 1998.

Under the 1951 United Nations Convention:

A refugee can be a “convention refugee” who has left his home country and has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or a membership in a particular social group.

The 1969 Africa OAU Convention:

A refugee can also be a person who has left his home owing to external aggression,occupation,foreign domination, or events seriously disturbing or disrupting public order in either a part or the whole of his country of origin or nationality

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Legislative framework overview
LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK OVERVIEW

The Refugees Act provides practical implementation of the relevant international legal instruments, principles and standards relating to refugees; to provide for the reception into South Africa of asylum seekers; to regulate applications for and recognition of refugee status; to provide for the rights and obligations flowing from such status;

RSA CONSTITUTION,1996

REFUGEES ACT, 1998

LEGAL FRAMEWORK

  • 1996 Constitution

  • Refugees Act, 1998

  • The 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol

  • The 1969 OAU (AU) Convention governing the specific aspects of refugee problem in Africa

  • The 1993 Basic Agreement between South Africa and the UNHCR

  • Refugees enjoy all the human rights contemplated in the Bill of Rights except the right to vote.

  • The Bill of Rights is the cornerstone of democracy in South Africa. It provides for the rights of all people in our country and affirms a wholesale of democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom.

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Asm mandate
ASM Mandate

  • The Asylum Seeker Management mandate is included in the

  • Refugee Act 130 of 1998:

  • The ASM core mandate gives recognition to the relevant international legal instruments, principles and standards relating to refugees.

  • To provide for the reception of asylum seekers into South Africa.

  • To regulate applications that provide for the recognition of refugee status

  • To provide for the rights and obligations flowing from such status, including enabling documentation

  • Process refugee enabling documents such as ID and travel documents

  • Provide support services to the Refugee Appeals Board as provided for in the Act

  • Cooperate and assist with the voluntary repatriation of refugees.

  • Advise and formulate policy on refugee related matters

  • Monitor the functioning of Refugee Reception Offices

  • Liaise with stakeholders such as UNHCR, NGOs and Government Departments

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Issuance of Permits to Asylum Seekers: S23

Asylum Seekers Temporary Permit known as Section 22 Permit (S22)

Provisions

Definition

Challenges

Implications

  • The Asylum Seeker’s Transition Permit is issued at the Port of Entry in terms of Section 23 of the 2002 Immigration Act

  • Section 23 Permits: This permit makes provision for the asylum seeker to present himself at the Refugee Reception Office within 14 days to have his claim registered.

  • Absence of a track and trace system

  • Admittance into the country of people tha cannot be accounted for

Proposed Solutions

  • Movement Control Systems (MCS) to be linked to National Integrated Immigration System (NIIS).

  • The Immigration Amendments propose that the permit be valid for 5 days.

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Issuance of Permits to Asylum Seekers: S22

Asylum Seekers Temporary Permit known as Section 22 Permit (S22)

Provisions

Definition

Challenges

Implications

  • The Asylum Seeker’s Temporary Permit is issued in terms of Section 22 of the Refugee Act which make provision of conditions of the permit

  • Section 22 Permits: This permit which is valid for six months is issued to asylum seekers only and legalize their stay in the Republic temporarily pending a final decision on their applications.

  • Limited capacity to deal with service demand

  • Absence of a track and trace system

  • Enforcing conditions

  • Long period in adjudication of asylum claims

  • Abuse of the asylum system

  • Recycling trends of failed asylum seekers

  • Manipulation of the asylum system by street agents (corruption)

  • Litigation- threat

Proposed Solutions

  • Improve adherence to the conditions within the permits.

  • Permit regime to deal with economic migrants

  • Improve effectiveness and efficiency of the status determination system.

  • System Interface

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Issuance of Permits to Refugees: S24

Refugee Status known as Section 24 Permit (S24)

Provisions

Definition

Challenges

Implications

  • Section 24 of the Refugee Act provides for the decision regarding application for asylum

  • Section 24 Permit is a Refugee Status issued to those eligible is valid for four years.

  • Ineffective adjudication process.

  • Protracted appeal process.

  • High risk for national security as refugee status is issued to undeserving element through misrepresentation or corruption

Proposed solutions

  • Improve performance of the status determination system.

  • Improve Information management Systems.

  • Amendment of the Refugee Act in terms of adjudicative procedure and capacity

  • Provision in the Immigration Act to deal with economic migrants.

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Issuance of Permits to Refugees: Refugee ID

Refugee Identity Document

Provisions

Definition

Challenges

Implications

  • Section 30 of the Refugee Act 130 of 1998 provides for the issuance of Identity Document to refugees in the prescribed manner

  • A refugee, not an asylum seeker, must apply for a refugee ID book at any Refugee Reception Office within 15 days of the receipt of his refugee status in the prescribed manner

  • Dependency on other units and Agencies delays the process to issue

  • Delay in issuing Refugee ID within the required timeframe

  • Legal threats

Proposed Solutions

  • Signing of an Service Level Agreement between business (Asylum Seekers Management) and all internal role-players such as GPW, Identification, BVR, etc.

  • System Interface

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Issuance of Permits to Refugees: Passport

Refugee Travel Document

Provisions

Definition

Challenges

Implications

  • Section 31 of the Refugee Act 130 of 1998 provides for the issuance of Travel Document to refugees in the prescribed manner

  • A refugee who is in possession of a refugee ID and a refugee status valid for at least 6 months can apply for a Refugee Travel Document at any Refugee Reception Office in the prescribed manner

  • Technical challenge as HANIS is unable to interface with NIIS (No conversion of fingerprints)

  • Legal threats from those eligible and NGOs advocating for refugees

Proposed solutions

  • Fast track the system interface

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Issuance of Permits to Refugees: Certification

Refugee Certification known as Section 27(c)

Provisions

Definition

Challenges

Implications

  • Section 27 (c) of the Refugee Act provides under protection and general rights for a refugee to apply for an immigration permit after 5 years of continuous residence in RSA

  • Section 27 (c) is permit issued in the form of a Certification to a refugee to enable him to apply for Permanent Residence in RSA

  • Section 27 (c) is currently issued by SCRA which is an independent body

  • DHA has no control over this critical process which lead to a refugee acquiring a Permanent Residence status in RSA

Proposed solutions

  • Revision of the functions and powers of the statutory body currently handling the review process.

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Problem statement
Problem Statement

Regulatory Framework Level

Non Encampment Policy

RSA does not have camps for asylum seekers or refugees neither does it have processing centers;

The 2008 Amendment Act could not be implemented due to technical errors that were discovered.

Implications :

People whose status has not been determined , their identity not verified are “released ” into local communities, allowed to seek jobs or open businesses ( possible security risk).

People with no means to livelihood left to fend for themselves ”rendering them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation”

The error affected the implementation process of the Act.

Proposed Solutions:

Immigration to develop a mechanism to deal with economic migrants who are currently clogging the asylum regime.

The Bill seeks to correct the technical error by separating applications.

Review of Memorandum of understanding with UNHCR to improve basket of services to asylum seekers.

Development of an integrated service delivery model that priorities partnership building and involvement of civil society in the provision of services to asylum seekers.

Possibilities for the development of a comprehensive refugee policy to guide the development of programs that address the complexities of refugees and asylum seekers.

Extensive review of the Refugees Act to ensure that it is an enabling framework that will enhance the countries compliance with the international legislation and adherence to best international and regional practices.

Regional dialogue on issue of refugees (burden sharing principles)

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Problem statement1
Problem Statement

Status Determination System( Implementation)

First Instance Level

At this stage of status determination the emphasis is on establishing the authenticity of the claim, analysis of the founded fear of persecution and risk assessment.

Challenges:

The adjudication process relies on an individual (Refugee Status Determination Officer) who is a low level and is not in a position to carry out the task at hand. This results in the system’s credibility being undermined.

Applications for asylum from persons whose claims do not fall within Section 3 of the Refugees Act are clogging the asylum process.( economic migrants)

Proposed Solution:

It is proposed that a provision for the Refugee Status Determination Committee be made in the Act to introduce the collective decision-making process in the adjudication of the claims. This will address the challenge of responsibility to adjudicate asylum claims being concentrated on individuals (RSDOs). It will also improve the credibility of the process as it ensures quality checks.

Strengthen the capacity of officers dealing with the status determination

Introduce an assessment phase to categorize applicants and establish referral systems especially for vulnerable groups e.g. economic migrants, unaccompanied minors and those needing psycho-social assistance

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Problem statement2
Problem Statement

Servicing Vulnerable Groups

This category will include people with disability, women and children, older persons unaccompanied minors etc

Challenges:

Absence in the current Act of a provision that guide the registration of the births of refugee and asylum seekers children,

The absence of a pre –assessment process to categorise and refer those in need of care and support to relevant institution,.

Proposed Solutions –

Introduction of a provision to guide the registration of birth and inclusion in the main applicants file ..

The development of an intergrated service delivery model that is responsive to the needs of vulnerable groups,.

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Problem statement3
Problem Statement

Review Process

This is a function that is being exercised by an independent body ( Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs). Their main function is to review applications that are rejected as manifestly unfounded at the first instance stage. Manifestly Unfounded cases are applications whose grounds are other than those contemplated in Section 3(a) and (b) of the Refugees Act.

Challenges:

Absence of a governance model

The powers and function extend to areas that need supervision and close monitoring.

Proposed Solutions –

Development of a governance model.

Propose amendment of the section in the Act pertaining to their powers and function. ( issuance of section 27 (c))

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Problem statement4
Problem Statement

Appeals Process

This is a function that is being exercised by an independent body ( Refugee Appeals Board). Their main function is to conduct appeal hearings on applications that are rejected as unfounded at the first instance stage. Unfounded means that the claim is within the requirements of the law but the applicant failed to establish a well founded fear and systematic persecution.

Challenges:

Limited capacity resulting in protracted appeal process

Weak monitoring systems of the appeal structure

Proposed Solutions –

Implement the Refugee Appeals Authority approach as proposed in the Amendment Act

Develop and manage a framework to guide the functions of RAB

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Proposed transformation approach
Proposed Transformation Approach

The Department has adopted a phased in approach aimed at the “overhaul” of asylum seeker management system:

Phase one:

During this phase prioritized amendments to the Act will be proposed . These amendments will not be addressing substantive issues. The main objective of the Bill is to provide for the establishment of a Status Determination Committee to consider and determine applications for asylum. The Amendment Bill further seeks to correct the technical error contained in the Amendment Act, granting the Refugees Appeals Authority the power to deal with both applications rejected as manifestly unfounded, abusive and fraudulent and as unfounded as appeals.

Phase Two:

During this phase the review of the Immigration Policy will be undertaken , the development of Refugee Policy will be explored and possible further amendments on the Act will be proposed.

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High level proposed amendments in the bill
HIGH LEVEL PROPOSED AMENDMENTS IN THE BILL

The main objective of the Amendment Bill is to improve the capacity, effectiveness and efficiency of the status determination system.

To further seek to correct the technical error contained in the 2008 Amendment Act.

To make provision for the establishment of the Status Determination Committee, which introduces a collective approach of decision making.

To further make provision for the establishment of the Refugee Appeals Authority. The Refugee Appeals Authority will be decentralized and located at each Refugee Reception Office.

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High level proposed amendments in the bill cont
HIGH LEVEL PROPOSED AMENDMENTS IN THE BILL cont..

To make provision for the registration of a child born of an asylum seeker in terms of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1992 (Act No. 51 of 1992), (the Birth and Death Registration Act).

To provide that an asylum seeker or refugee must, after registration of a child born in the Republic, submit the certificate issued in terms of the Birth and Death Registration Act, at any Refugee Reception Office in order to have the said child included as a dependent of such asylum seeker or refugee.

The function that was vested in the Director-General to certify that a person would remain a refugee indefinitely now vests with the Minister.

The function to withdraw a refugee status is with the Minister.

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Clause 1 amendment of definitions
Clause 1Amendment of definitions

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Clause 2 amends section 4 1 b of the act
Clause 2Amends section (4)(1)(b) of the Act

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Clause 2
Clause 2 ...

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Clause 3 substitutes section 8 2 of the act
Clause 3Substitutes section 8(2) of the Act

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Clause 3 continues
Clause 3 continues…

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Clause 4 amends section 8e of amendment act
Clause 4 Amends section 8E of Amendment Act

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Clause 5 substitutes section 21b 2 of amendment act
Clause 5Substitutes section 21B(2) of Amendment Act

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Clause 5 continues
Clause 5 (continues…)

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Clause 6 amends section 24 of the act
Clause 6 Amends section 24 of the Act

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Clause 6 continues
Clause 6 (continues…)

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Clause 6 continues1
Clause 6 (continues…)

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Clause 6 continues2
Clause 6 (continues…)

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Clause 7 amends section 24a of the amendment act
Clause 7 Amends section 24A of the Amendment Act

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Clause 8 amends section 24b of amendment act
Clause 8Amends section 24B of Amendment Act

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Clause 8
Clause 8 ...

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Clause 81
…Clause 8

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Clauses 9 amends section 27 of the act
Clauses 9 Amends section 27 of the Act

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Clauses 10 amends section 36 of the act
Clauses 10… Amends section 36 of the Act

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Clauses 10
Clauses 10 …

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Clauses 10 continues
Clauses 10 (continues…)

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Clause 11 amends section 38 1 d of the act
Clause 11 Amends section 38(1)(d) of the Act

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Clause 12 substitution of words
Clause 12Substitution of words

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Clause 13 short title and commencement
Clause 13Short title and Commencement

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THANK YOU

SIYABONGA

RE A LEBOGA

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