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20. Jan. 2020 Mail & Guardian

Amended Refugee Act restricts fundamental rights

The 1998 Refugees Act, which is modelled on the 1951 Refugee Convention, a United Nations treaty, prescribes rules and regulations for asylum seekers and refugees. The act was recently amended to restrict access to work, curtail certain liberties and discourage political involvement or contact with diplomatic missions under threat of deportation. Some of the amendments include a withdrawal of refugee status if one engages in political activity or campaigns, an age limit for dependents of refugees and a committee determining a refugee’s field of study and the limits to the work for which refugees may apply. Vusimuzi Sibanda, chairperson of refugee advocacy group the African Diaspora Forum, says it is hoping this position will be reconsidered using the South African Constitution as a guide. “There are certain parts of the Constitution that look at rights which can be limited. The right to participate in the political affairs of a country is a right that cannot be limited by anyone because that is a right to self-determination,” he says. Sibanda adds that even if asylum seekers are in South Africa fleeing human rights violations, they are still citizens of their own countries. They have to be given the option of getting politically involved in fixing their country, so they can return. Academic Jane Duncan agrees, saying that the regulations are disgraceful and that they remove fundamental rights from an already vulnerable constituency. “[They] most likely would have been victims of persecution in their own countries and their ability to organise around the very issues that created their refugee status is denied to them … Unless refugee organisations can freely organise about issues affecting them directly, they will not be able to change those situations back home, which will create a bigger refugee crisis,” she says. Political dissidents Director of the Cape Town-based refugee support group Unifam, Patrick Matenga, who was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), says that the amendments contain both good and bad parts. But he agrees with the department of home affairs that some people abuse the system. “International law provides for refugees to not be involved in politics … Some people are here to abuse the system of asylum seekers. They are here for political reasons and penetrate into the political system,” he says. South Africa is home to a number of political dissidents who have organised in South Africa and been instrumental in shedding light on the plight of those in their countries of origin. Many former allies of Rwandan President Paul Kagame fled to South Africa, leading to the country being used as a site for violence and assassination. The situation became so tenuous that both nations removed diplomatic staff from the other. Motsoaledi has previously positioned the amendment to political participation as a contribution to the continental peace and security architecture. In a radio interview, he said the department was complying with Article 23 of the African Union’s 30-year-old African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Motsoaledi’s spokesperson, Siya Qoza, defended the amendment as necessary to prevent people from using South Africa as a ground for political warfare. “What we don’t want is … people to run away from their home countries, saying they are being persecuted for political participation, and coming here and using South Africa as a base to launch an attack against a country which is legitimate,” he says. Qoza says African countries are all recognised by international and national bodies as being legitimate governments, citing free elections and independent judiciaries across the continent. A question of legitimacy Michael Neocosmos, the author of From ‘Foreign Natives’ to ‘Native Foreigners’, says legitimacy is beside the point as everybody has a human right to engage in the expression of political dissent so long as it’s peaceful. The formulation in the AU Charter mentions the terms “subversion and terrorism”, not “political” as the amendment states. “No one is denying the legitimacy of the state. But the point is some states are oppressive and deny people their human rights, therefore that’s not the issue. Do they deny certain people their rights? If you are in Myanmar and seek asylum in Bangladesh, it doesn’t mean Myanmar isn’t legitimate, it just means you are oppressed in some way by being denied human rights,” he says. Having received succour from other African states during the anti-apartheid struggle, it’s easy to spot the dissimilarity in support and sanctuary provided by South Africa to immigrants. But Qoza says the two cannot be compared. “Here is the difference. ANC comrades went there as freedom fighters, they did not go there as refugees. Apartheid was declared a crime against humanity … ANC people were in camps, they were not integrated into society and provided for under specific conditions,” he says. Securitisation and internationalism “You don’t see foreigners as bringing skills, bringing employment, bringing in different ways of doing things … Instead, you criminalise them. More restrictions will not stop people from coming,” he says. Neocosmos sees this as an abandonment of the internationalist perspective by the ruling party, contending that this moves South Africa into isolation on the continent. “The ANC had an internationalist perspective. It stood up officially in its rhetoric and in its statements for oppressed peoples. They had an internationalist perspective, but now they seem to deny people their basic rights to organise and engage in political activity, which is the complete opposite. It’s denying internationalism, it’s throwing internationalism under the bus and it shows that there is a core of chauvinism and xenophobia at the heart of the ANC,” he says. Neocosmos says the amendments will cause more administration and make life even more difficult for refugees and asylum seekers, which is the intention. “The legislation has always been there, it’s just harassing people. That’s another way of instituting legislation to throw people out … The legislation has always been one to build a fortress around South Africa,” he says. Tough criteria Qoza says there are criteria an asylum seeker must satisfy to be granted refugee status: They must prove that they are persecuted on particular grounds, including religion, culture and tribe, with the option to appeal if denied. “Even if your country has a law against something, you must still … evidence that you as an individual have been targeted. That applies to all [criterion] including political violence, LGBTQIA+ … For example, not all regions in the DRC are at war. Those [in areas of] war must still show that [their] life is directly at risk … That is how the international law operates and we are using it along those lines,” he says. Qoza says this does not apply to those in the country such as academics or sportspeople, “it only applies to people who came here saying that their lives are in danger and they need protection”. Sibanda says this approach is a misinterpretation of the Refugees Act, because it assumes you must be directly affected by a disturbance in your country or that you are seeking asylum because you are fighting with your government. People are running because their governments are not able to protect them from Islamist groups in Nigeria and opposition group Renamo in northern Mozambique, for instance, he says. “There has always been Renamo in that particular area. Those people who run, run away because of the brutalisation that takes place because of the disagreements between the government and Renamo,” he says. In a country like Uganda or Kenya, where you can be arrested based on your sexual orientation, or your family arrested for knowing about your preference and not turning you in, it would surely be a tangible fear that you can be persecuted at any time and should be afforded protection. “They are trying to deal with broader issues. But the way they are trying to go about it, they are preventing people that could have genuine problems, and that is where the biggest concern is,” says Sibanda. Qoza says that, hypothetically, if a refugee or asylum seeker needed to access documents through their embassy, that asylum seeker would have to alert the home affairs department. They could also make representations to the government if they had sought refuge in South Africa but wanted to participate in the political processes of their country of origin. Work restrictions The department of small business development will introduce new laws aimed at restricting the sectors in which refugees and asylum seekers can work following the landmark Watchenuka case, which set parameters on refugee affairs relating to employment while waiting for their status to be declared. Motsoaledi has said that this caused problems on the labour front, including employers citing the judgment when hiring undocumented immigrants. He has previously claimed in Parliament that 95% of asylum seekers were in fact looking to come to South Africa to seek employment rather than refugee status. Matenga takes issue with the restrictions on work, saying this will cripple those coming into South Africa. “Their work is their work. We have no refugee camps in South Africa. So, the only way for them to survive is for them to find work, because they are not afforded assistance,” he says. Unisa law professor Babatunde Fagbayibo says many countries make use of a local content policy, including Nigeria and Zimbabwe, but that this was not the way to deal with immigration as it made the issue worse without addressing challenges. He attributed the amendments to the securitisation of South Africa, which he says sees itself inside of Africa, but not of Africa. “There is a sense of othering. South Africa is becoming more nationalistic and this is the foreign policy that is in line with it … It is a schizophrenic foreign policy in which democracy is only respected inside the country. Anything over the Limpopo River, and South Africa looks the other way,” he says. Interested parties had 13 business days from June 29 2018, when the suggested changes were first published, to comment. Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa media officer Abigail Dawson says the lobby group advocated consistently against the amendments from the time they were drafted, dubbing them a big step away from the progressive 2008 Refugees Act. “These amendments will enforce much more restrictive avenues … and additional procedural processes for protection, which are unrelated to the protection of refugees and asylum seekers … while denying fundamental rights to work and study,” she says. Qoza says the department is open to people coming into the country, provided they do so using the appropriate channels and declare their true intentions. “We need to make sure that people who get in are people who qualify for the status that they are applying for, or else they must apply for a permit which accords with what [they] want to do when in South Africa,” he says. www.samigration.com V.5042

08. Apr. 2020 SAMI

Rich, older South African men are buying Plan B passports in Europe in record numbers

Business Insider SA - 05 April 2020 The first half of 2018 saw a huge surge in applications from South Africans looking to buy their way into second passports, mostly in Europe, numbers from an advisory company show. V.5085

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08. Apr. 2020 SAMI

How to get British citizenship via double descent

British citizenship via the double descent route was a much talked about topic the past few months. However, there is still a lot of confusion about who can qualify. V.5086

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08. Apr. 2020 By Alan Knott-Craig (SA Author)

South Africa might just get lucky - this might not all come to pass but at least there’s hope.

In February, our country was in bad shape. Our stock market was over-heated. We were heading for a recession. We were heading for a downgrade. And then Covid19 happened. V.5088

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06. Apr. 2020 Groundup

Victory for asylum seekers in Constitutional Court

Court rules on extension of temporary permits The Constitutional Court has ruled that asylum seekers’ temporary permits must automatically be extended while their case is being reviewed. Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks V.5083

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04. Apr. 2020 News24

German government begins repatriation of citizens from SA

The German government on Friday started the repatriation of its citizens from South Africa. Strict travel regulations had been in place since a 21-day nationwide Covid-19 lockdown was announced. Previously, all flights were grounded, but the repatriation was permitted due to the revised regulations announced this week by the Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula. V.5087

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02. Apr. 2020 SAMI

This caters for applicants (in South Africa) that were born in the United Kingdom. This page also serves to clarify the benefits of being born in the UK versus having a parent (or grandparent) that was born in the UK.

The are quite a few complications in these cases that we are looking to clarify. The first relates to eligibility of British nationality. The second relates to the type of British nationality. Finally, we close off by revealing some solutions we have up our sleeves. V.5082

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01. Apr. 2020 RNZ

Government takes another look at partnership visas

directed his officials to come up with a solution so Indians aren`t unfairly excluded from receiving partnership visas. The intervention has come after mounting anger and frustration from the Kiwi-Indian community at recent policy changes with some even walking away from the Labour Party. V.5084

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31. Mar. 2020 Iol.com

Foreign nationals stuck in SA will be allowed to go home with chartered flights, says Mbalula

Cape Town - Foreign nationals stranded in South Africa will be allowed to be repatriated under strict conditions, while South African nationals abroad who wished to return home would be allowed to do so, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Tuesday. V.5075

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31. Mar. 2020 SAMI

Great Grandparent Born in UK

This caters for applicants that were born outside of the UK and they have a UK born great grandparent. The applicant would be defined, from an immigration perspective, as 4 generations apart. The case can be viewed a the grandparent of the applicants parent and not the grandparent of the applicant (of course). V.5076

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31. Mar. 2020 SAMI

Missed appointment not enough to refuse refugee asylum ` court judgment

A man whose father fled Burundi during political turmoil and genocide there in 1994, has been given a fresh start at applying for asylum in South Africa after he was embroiled in a dispute with authorities for about a decade over a missed appointment. V.5077

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31. Mar. 2020 SAMI

Asylum seekers can now apply for residence visas Constitutional Court ruling overturns Home Affairs directive

The Constitutional Court has ruled that asylum seekers whose refugee applications have been refused, can apply for a visa. Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks If you are an asylum seeker and your application to be a refugee is refused, you are still allowed to apply for a visa. The Constitutional Court ruled this in a unanimous judgment handed down in October. V.5078

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31. Mar. 2020 SAMI

All you need to know about the new UK immigration system

(Partner Content) The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Although this was the official Brexit date, there is still a transition period in place. V.5080

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31. Mar. 2020 SAMI

Visa outsourcing scrapped Government shelves plan to privatise visa processing.

The government has scrapped plans to outsource its visa processing system. Acting Minister for Immigration, Alan Tudge, announced last Friday that the Department for Home Affairs was terminating its tender process for the Global Digital Platform. He said it was part of “new policy approach to the acquisition and delivery of workflow processing capability” for Home Affairs ` and government as a whole ` and indicated the government remained interesting in updating the current process. V.5081

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29. Mar. 2020 Business Insider SA

Coronavirus: Standard Bank extends payment holidays to personal accounts too

Standard Bank clients earning R7 500 or less will qualify for a three-month payment holiday on all personal account-related debt, the bank said on Sunday. Interest and bank charges will still be charged during this time. Standard Bank last week introduced similar payment holidays for business and student-related debt during the Covid-19 disaster. V.5068

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29. Mar. 2020 Fin 24

Absa launches extensive coronavirus payment relief programme

After careful consideration and engagements with regulators, Absa announced on Sunday that it is introducing a comprehensive customer, business and corporate relief programme. V.5069

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29. Mar. 2020

Home Affairs rejects calls to release immigration detainees fearful of coronavirus

Detainees fear they will get coronavirus. The United Kingdom has released hundreds of immigration detainees over fears of a coronavirus outbreak, but Australia`s immigration officials say that`s not necessary. V.5071

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29. Mar. 2020

UK immigration: The UK Ancestral Visa �` FAQ

(Partner Content) The UK Ancestral Visa is still one of the most popular and common ways in which persons from the Commonwealth countries can come to the UK. However, you will have to prove that you have a grandparent born in the UK to qualify. Below we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions our consultants received during the past months. These FAQs will clarify many issues for readers on the Ancestral Visa immigration route. V.5074

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28. Mar. 2020 News24

No hope in sight for South Africans stranded at airports abroad

South Africans stranded abroad should not expect evacuation any time soon. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) said it was doing everything possible to assist South Africans stuck at transit airports after their connecting flights were cancelled ahead of the government-imposed national lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. V.5070

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28. Mar. 2020 News24

Coronavirus in SA: Impasse over evacuation of British citizens

Thousands of UK citizens are believed to be in distress while they are stranded in South Africa but the government refuses to relax lockdown regulations to allow the European country`s crews to rest before returning home. V.5072

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27. Mar. 2020 Traveller 24

40 Hours and almost R80k later - the rip-off of flight prices to get home before lockdown

Before the lockdown in the country was even announced, South African married couple Jana and Martin were making arrangements to cut their three-month backpacking trip through Southeast Asia short. V.5065

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Articles

08. Apr. 2020 SAMI

Rich, older South African men are buying Plan B passports in Europe in record numbers

Business Insider SA - 05 April 2020 The first half of 2018 saw a huge surge in applications from South Africans looking to buy their way into second passports, mostly in Europe, numbers from an advisory company show. V.5085

Click here for full article

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