South Africa: LHR makes submission on poorly written White Paper from Home Affairs, calls for its withdrawal

Published: 1/Fév/2024
Source: Lawyers for Human Rights (South Africa)

Yesterday, 31 January 2024, was the deadline for public comments and submissions on the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) White Paper on Citizenship, Immigration and Refugee Protection: Towards a complete overhaul of the migration system in South Africa. In spite of the very short time frame for submissions to be made, LHR engaged with communities who will be affected by what can only be described as draconian measures outlined in this White Paper.

The LHR submission makes reference to extensive engagement that it has had with the Department of Home Affairs spanning a period of just under 30 years. LHR has made presentations to the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, we have made submissions jointly with the Legal Resources Centre on the Green Paper on International Migration (2016), and many other submissions. We have produced reports and made recommendations, and made these available to the DHA. We have also used the last resort available to us – taking gross human rights violations by the DHA to the courts. We have also attempted to engage with the DHA through the South African Human Rights Commission.

We can say categorically that all these engagements, including judgments holding the DHA to account to comply with policy and the Constitution, have all fallen on deaf ears.

As pointed out in our submission: The “intensity” of the White Paper, and its numerous implications on the human rights and dignity of all who live in South Africa, necessitated a meaningful and reasonable public participation process. We were denied this opportunity by the unreasonably short time frames.

As a general note, LHR wishes to express disappointment at the lack of readability of the White Paper. The White Paper does not read coherently, nor does it provide credible sources for the statements it makes, or the statistics it provides. As a public policy document, this is unacceptable.

The White Paper in its current form is contemptuous of a democratic dispensation. It is our view that the proposed policy shift falls short of what is needed to manage the challenges facing South Africa, and also falls short of the constitutional principles and standards recorded throughout our jurisprudence.

LHR is particularly concerned that the White Paper reads like a populist, political rant that seeks to scape-goat migrants for certain governmental failings – a ploy often used during election campaigning with the hope of winning votes in the upcoming elections.

In light of the inadequate time for consultation and preparation of submissions, LHR calls on the DHA to withdraw the current draft of the White Paper, to allow for the consultation needed in a participatory democracy, and more thorough engagement with the issues.

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Themes: Acquisition par les enfants, Naturalisation et le mariage
Regions: Afrique du Sud
Year: 2024