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SAHRC expresses concern about the ill treatment of refugees and asylum seekers

Thursday, 07 June 2012

The South African Human Rights Commission has been receiving numerous complaints about the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in Gauteng.  The Commission has been monitoring the situation closely.

The Commission responded to the riot at the Lindela Repatriation centre on Monday by sending a monitoring team to visit the facility on Tuesday morning. The team engaged in discussions with the Manager of the facility and asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo. However the statements, taken from both parties, are contradictory and are currently under examination by the Commission.

The Commission further confirms receipt of an earlier complaint relating to alleged appalling conditions and treatment of refugees and asylum seekers at the Lindela facility from a consortium of eight NGO’s, who work closely with refugees and asylum seekers. An initial investigation has commenced.

The rights of non-nationals are specifically protected in national law and in international human rights agreements. This group is particularly vulnerable and the State is obliged to take appropriate steps to ensure that the basic rights this group are adequately protected. The history of reported abuses and ongoing complaints demands that the Commission take the necessary steps to ensure that the rights of this group are not violated with impunity.   These violations are of grave concern as it appears to becoming endemic and systemic.

Prior to the incident that occurred at the Lindela Centre on Monday, the Commission raised concerns about reported physical assaults and attacks on migrants and asylum seekers at the Marabastad offices of the Department of Home Affairs in April this year. These concerns and the Commission’s own recommendations in its 2009 Report on the rights of non-nationals have been brought to the attention of the Department again.

It is extremely disconcerting that the Department has not yet responded to the recommendations of the Commission contained in the 2009 Report. The situation is exacerbated by the repeated occurrences of similar violations. There appears to be no adequate and tangible corrective measures being taken by the Department to ameliorate the plight of migrants and asylum seekers.

The Commission has already started with its preliminary investigation. It is also considering alternative measures to ensure that the Department takes urgent meaningful steps to end the perennial violations of the rights of refugees and asylum seekers as reported and contained in the Report referred to above.


For further enquiries: Vincent Moaga on 073 562 9866
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