Source: UN Human Rights Committee
Concluding observations on the initial report of South Africa
2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the initial report of South Africa and the information presented therein, and regrets that it is 14 years overdue. It expresses appreciation for the opportunity to engage in a constructive dialogue with the State party’s high-level delegation on the measures that the State party has taken since the entry into force of the Covenant to implement its provisions. The Committee is grateful to the State party for its written replies (CCPR/C/ZAF/Q/1/Add.1) to the list of issues (CCPR/C/ZAF/Q/1), which were supplemented by oral responses provided by the delegation, and supplementary information provided to it in writing.
Access to refugee determination process
- The Committee is concerned at increased difficulties in accessing refugee status determination processes due to the closure of several urban Refugee Reception Offices, and about the reports of inadequate safeguards in the status determination process. The Committee is concerned about allegations that some immigration officers refuse to provide asylum seekers with transit permits at the port of entry, putting them at risk of immediate arrest or deportation. The Committee is concerned about allegations that these obstacles have resulted in the development of corrupt practices and have increased the vulnerability of migrants, especially children, rendering them undocumented and stateless (arts. 6, 7 and 13).
- The State party should facilitate access to documentation and fair procedures for asylum seekers, including translation services and, where the interest of justice so require, access to legal representation. It should ensure that asylum applications are processed expeditiously and that the principle of non-refoulement is respected under all circumstances.
- The Committee is concerned about reports of: (a) cases of undocumented migrants detained in police stations and in prison facilities; (b) individuals detained at Lindela Repatriation Centre for lengthy periods of time without a warrant; and, (c) protracted detention of stateless persons and their deportation to countries where they were not recognised as citizens. It also notes with concern the poor conditions at Lindela Repatriation Centre, including overcrowding, lack of hygiene and of medical services (arts. 6, 9, 10 and 23).
- The State party should ensure that detention pending deportation is applied as a last resort only, with special regard being given to the needs of particularly vulnerable persons, and that individuals detained for immigration-related reasons are held in facilities specifically designed for that purpose. The State party should also strengthen its efforts to ensure adequate living conditions in all immigration centres, by reducing overcrowding, providing adequate health-care services, and ensuring proper sanitary conditions.
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