Immigration: SA still not dealing effectively with asylum seekers

SA attracts the largest number of asylum seekers in the world, but grants refugee status to very few, ranking only 36th in the world for the size of its refugee population, which the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) puts at about 58 000, notes an Irin report.

The Department of Home Affairs approved just 15.5% of the applications it processed in 2011, less than half the global average recognition rate of 38%, according to UNHCR.

Researchers and activists have repeatedly pointed to serious flaws in the country’s refugee status determination process, including the lack of individualised assessments, misapplications of both local and international refugee law, and high levels of corruption among Home Affairs officials. The government’s routine response has been that its asylum system is simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of applications it receives.

Source: LegalBrief

Ground-breaking court win for ‘separated’ children

The North Gauteng High Court has ordered that eight ‘separated’ minors be allowed to register for and attend public school. The issue arose after public schools were threatened with fines for allowing these children into school, according to the Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme.

‘Separated’ children have been refused entry into SA public schools over a lack of documentation and status because the Department of Home Affairs does not recognise them as dependents of their caregivers. ‘Separated’ children are defined as those separated from both parents, or from their previous legal caregiver.

After the Minister of Education and the Gauteng MEC for Education decided not to oppose the application, the court ordered that the Department of Education allow these minors to register for and attend public school. Lawyers for Human Rights attorney Neo Chokoe said: ‘This case is ground-breaking in that is has opened doors for many separated children who are unable to study because they are undocumented. The judgment is significant in that … applicants will be allowed to register in schools without permits.’

Education organisations said the effect of the judgment would be to place a greater burden on an already stretched public education system. Nomusa Cembi, of the SA Democratic Teachers Union, is quoted in Beeld as saying the Department of Education would now have to provide schools with teachers that can speak the languages of those learners.‘The learners will obviously attend schools that don’t charge school fees and the department would have to increase their subsidies.’

Fedsas deputy head Jaco Deacon said it was unfair for schools to deal with problems that would now arise, including catching up on work missed. SA Teachers Union head Chris Klopper said all schools had limited water, sanitation and safety resources, as well as teaching capacity. Schools’ obligations cannot continue to increase.

Source: Legalbrief

HRC Bill introduced in Parliament

The HRC introduced a Bill in Parliament that seeks to provide for the composition, powers, functions and functioning of the South African Human Rights Commission; and to provide for matters connected therewith.

Read the full Bill: South African Human Rights Commission Bill 2013

HRW Report on forced marriages of children

A recently published 95-page Human Rights Watch report documents the consequences of child marriage, the near total lack of protection for victims who try to resist marriage or leave abusive marriages, and the many obstacles they face in accessing mechanisms of redress.

It is based on interviews with 87 girls and women in Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Jonglei states, as well as with government officials, traditional leaders, health care workers, legal and women’s rights experts, teachers, prison officials, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations, the United Nations, and donor organizations.

Read the full report:  Human Rights Watch report This old man can feed us, and you will marry him

News updates

Human Rights Watch World Report: Human Rights Watch has released its 2013 World Report. It raises a number of concerns, including torture, lengthy pre-trial detention and the abuse of civilians by military officials, in respect of a number of African countries. The report is available at https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/wr2013_web.pdf#page=120&zoom=auto,0,251

International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO): The IJJO has released its January 2013 Newletter. It contains an editorial piece on the International Detention Coalition’s research based on children’s experiences in immigration detention, covering a range of countries, including Somalia and Ethiopia. The newsletter is available at http://www.oijj.org/en/sala-prensa/boletines

Access to justice for women: The International Development Law Organisation has released a manual entitled “Accessing Justice: models, strategies and best practices on women’s empowerment.” The manual contains a number of examples and case studies from women in African countries. The manual is available at http://www.idlo.int/Publications/Women-AccesstoJustice.pdf

Police detention monitoring manual released

Police detention monitoring manual: The Association for the Prevention of Torture has released a manual entitled “Monitoring Police Custody – a practical guide.”

The manual is intended to assist anyone carrying out monitoring visits to police stations or other similar detention facilities and preventive activities concerning the police conduct.

The report is available at www.apt.ch/en/resources/monitoring-police-custody-a-practical-guide/

Domestic Violence Act to be amended

As published in: Legalbrief Today (27/02/2013)
Category: Policy Watch
Issue No: 3223

Justice and Constitutional Development Deputy Minister Andries Nel has confirmed that the South African Law Reform Commission is in the process of reviewing provisions in the Domestic Violence Act 116/1998, writes Pam Saxby for Legalbrief Policy watch.

When questioned about possible amendments to the Act during an eNews Channel Africa interview last Thursday – having earlier described it as ‘one of the best and most progressive pieces of legislation in the world’ and ‘absolutely groundbreaking’ in its provisions for the protection of women – Nel conceded that, while ‘basically sound’, certain provisions in the Act had resulted in ‘serious implementation problems’. A transcript of the interview was published yesterday on the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development website.

During public hearings on the Dangerous Weapons Bill recently held by the National Assembly’s committee on police, a call was made for a re-evaluation of the statute’s impact on the abuse of women – particularly in view of the burgeoning number of cases of domestic violence across SA.

According to committee chair Annalize van Wyk, who was quoted in a media statement issued at the time, it is ‘clear’ that the Act is not adequately protecting women. With this in mind, she has invited the SA Police Service to identify areas of the Act needing to be amended. Van Wyk also questioned the reasoning behind allowing the perpetrators of domestic violence to own firearms. Civilian Secretariat for Police Act 2/2011 made monitoring and compliance with the Domestic Violence Act one of the Secretariat’s functions.

Interview about Domestic Violence with Dep.Min of Justice

Transcript copy of Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Andries Carl Nel’s interview about domestic violence

(as seen on eNews Channel Africa (eNCA), Thursday 21 February 2013)

Ayanda-Allie Paine (eNCA News Anchor): let’s turn our attention to this now for a moment. The portfolio Committee on Police is calling the amendment for the Domestic Violent Act. The recent increase of domestic violence case has prompted the call to also re-evaluate the Impact the legislation has had on the fight against women and child abuse. The Chairperson of Parliament’s police committee, Annelize van Wyk says the Act doesn’t adequately protect women. Let’s get a reaction from the Deputy Justice Minister, Andries Nel. A very good morning to you and thank you so much for your time.

Question: Does a piece of legislation as it stands suits or benefit women?

Deputy Minister Andries Nel: Very definitely, I think the Domestic Violence Act is one of the best and most progressive pieces of legislation in the world and I think at the time it was adopted, it was absolutely groundbreaking in the provision that it had on the protection of women and also the fact that it was one of the few pieces of legislation in the world that recognize same sex of couples as domestic partners for the purpose of that Act.

Ayanda-Allie Paine: Deputy Minister, if I may interject there. Why the need to make amendments? What are these amendments you seek to make?

Deputy Minister Andries Nel: I think the legislation is basically sound. However, there are number of provision within the Act that have cause complication in terms of implementation. We have asked the South African Law Reform Commission to look at the legislation, to look at where it can be improved and especially, to look at those provision that have run into serious-serious implementation problems to be reviewed.

Ayanda-Allie Paine: The South African Judicial System is under scrutiny not just with the case of Oscar Pistorious but also in previous judgment made against high profile public figures. In your opinion, do you think that our Judiciary is lacking?

Deputy Minister Andries Nel: I think our judiciary and our Criminal Justice System is a very-very sound system. Our Criminal Justice System has succeeded in less than 20 years, to bring down the murder rate in this country from 32000 to 16000 murders. Many other levels of serious crime have come down. That is because, as crime Justice System, we have reviewed that system; we are implementing the plan to bring together Police, the Prosecution, Courts, the present Legal Aid, and Social Development into very-very tight and effective system. I think we’ve seen that during big event such as the World Cup and we have seen that in a number of other instances. Are there problems? Yes, there are problems. Are there serious problems? Yes, there are serious problems. Do we have plans to address those? Yes, we do. Are we addressing those? Yes, we are.

Ayanda-Allie Paine: One of those problems you might be talking about is the issue of Secondary Victimization, many abused women or rape victims saying that they don’t want to take their cases to court because is just not properly handled in the Judicial System?

Deputy Minister Andries Nel: Well, absolutely, one of the reason why the Minister of Justice announced that we will be re-introducing Sexual Offences Courts. Those courts will focus on sexual offences, they will have judicial officers that are experienced in those matter and they will have Prosecutors and support staff in those court as well as facilities such as Videos, Testifying Facilities such as separate Waiting Facilities for victims and witnesses that will minimize that Secondary Victimization. In addition to that, we have a system of Thuthuzela Care Centres, 51 in total, 32 of which are fully operational and we have to bring up to 45 during this year, where a victim of sexual offences can go and receive one stop support, for medical personnel, for Counselors, for other Social services to make sure that he or she is not shuttled through the Criminal Justice System and subjected to that Secondary Victimization. These centres has being very-very successful and in fact they represent the International base practice they are being implemented incorporated in many other parts of the world and even being called Thuthuzela Care Centre in those countries.

Ayanda-Allie Paine: Deputy Minister if I may cut in there quickly, my apology for ……….

Deputy Minister Andries Nel: if can just quickly say, the Thuthuzela Care Centre, since the previous financial year to this year the number of victims who have come those centres has risen from 20000 to 28000. I think that is an indication that people do have confidence in our Criminal Justice System. Yes, they are problems. Yes, we are attending to those.

Ayanda-Allie Paine: Will have to leave it there for now, thank you so much for your time, Deputy Justice Minister Andries. Thank you again.

Offensive tweets could mean jail time – lawyer

A lawyer has warned South Africans to be careful about what they tweet, because offensive posts could result in charges being filed – and even a possible jail term of between three and six months.

Emma Sadleir, a social media lawyer at Webber Wentzel, is quoted in a report in The Times as saying Twitter and Facebook users who put up racist or offensive posts could be charged with crimen injuria or face a complaint under the Equality Act.

‘It is not unusual for a person who is found guilty of crimen injuria to be imprisoned in SA,’ Sadleir said. ‘I know of two separate cases in which policemen were called [by] the ‘k’ word and in both instances, the person was sentenced to jail for a period of three to six months.’

Like any other form of publication, online users are held liable for all comments they make on social networks, even when retweeting and sharing posts. The report notes Sadleir said anonymous users were not exempted from criminal charges, or complaints laid with the Equality Court against unfair discrimination, harassment and hate speech. This is because it is possible to get a court order compelling a website to hand over any information like e-mail or an IP address identifying the person who set up the account.