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FORCED-MIGRATION  June 2010

FORCED-MIGRATION June 2010

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Subject:

New report: Lost in the Vortex: Irregularities in the Detention and Deportation of Non-Nationals in South Africa

From:

Forced Migration List <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Forced Migration List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 11 Jun 2010 11:44:53 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (124 lines)

Government Wasting Money, Violating the Rights of Foreigners in Arrests, 
Detentions, and Dangerous Deportations

9 June 2010

As South Africa eagerly embraces foreign fans for the Football World 
Cup, thousands of additional foreigners—undocumented migrants, asylum 
seekers, refugees and some lawful immigrants—face detention and 
ultimately deportation from the privately run Lindela Repatriation 
Facility. In arresting, detaining, and deporting those foreigners it 
deems ‘illegal,’ the South African government is not only failing to 
uphold its own laws, but also is violating international conventions and 
the human rights of detainees. Detained asylum seekers face particular 
threats not just to their liberty, but to their very lives if deported. 
While there are signs of reform, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) 
has far to go to bring the facility in line with the country’s laws and 
international obligations.

These conclusions are outlined in a report released Wednesday by the 
Forced Migration Studies Programme (FMSP) at the University of the 
Witwatersrand entitled "Lost in the Vortex: Irregularities in the 
Detention and Deportation of Non-Nationals in South Africa".

Based on interviews with 734 detainees at Lindela over a 10-month 
period, the research highlights a general failure to follow proper 
procedures. Widespread corruption, administrative weaknesses, and 
improper verification procedures by both police and DHA officials are 
resulting in the detention of many individuals with legal immigration 
status. DHA also detains significant numbers of asylum seekers—a 
practice that courts have deemed illegal, as South African law protects 
asylum seekers from detention as well as deportation. Asylum seekers 
inside Lindela often had no mechanism to challenge their deportation, 
despite the existence of legal provisions that bar their return to a 
country where they may face persecution.

“The detention of asylum seekers raises serious human rights concerns,” 
said Roni Amit, author of the report. “Individuals detained at Lindela 
who fled threats to life and limb face deportation back to their home 
countries without any determination that it is in fact safe for them to 
return—a violation of South Africa’s international obligation to respect 
the non-refoulement principle.”

The research also uncovered a pattern of prolonged and indefinite 
detentions without judicial oversight. Although the law requires DHA to 
obtain a court warrant to extend detentions beyond 30 days, most 
detainees held for over 30 days had never seen such a warrant or 
received the proper notification that their detention would be extended. 
As such, they had generally been unable to exercise their right to 
challenge the extension. A number of detainees were held in excess of 
the maximum 120 days allowed by law, with no legal process governing 
their continued detention and no information about the length of their 
detention. These individuals were being detained indefinitely without 
access to courts or other legal mechanisms.

“These results suggest that in a number of cases, the detention and 
deportation of illegal foreigners is essentially taking place within a 
legal black hole,” said Amit. “The arrest and detention processes are 
governed by strict legal procedures. DHA cannot simply choose to abandon 
the law when carrying out its mandate to control illegal migration.”

According to the report, problems within the facility are aggravated by 
the delegation of daily operations to Bosasa (a private contractor). As 
a result, detainees have limited access to immigration officers and are 
often blocked from exercising their legally guaranteed rights. Detainees 
were generally unable to access their rights of review and appeal, and 
were often not even notified of these rights or were threatened with 
indefinite detention if they tried to exercise them. Many detainees 
expressed frustration at the uncertainty and lack of information 
surrounding their situation. Corruption and violence were also common 
themes.

The report notes that DHA is incurring unnecessary costs by illegally 
detaining and deporting individuals who do not belong at Lindela. It 
includes a number of recommendations aimed at addressing the 
administrative failures leading to these increased costs. Key among 
these is the establishment of oversight and accountability measures for 
individual immigration officers and Bosasa employees.

“We recognize that DHA is aware of many of these issues and is working 
to resolve them,” stated Amit. “In the meantime, the Department is 
illegally detaining and deporting individuals. It is untenable for a 
democracy to continue violating the human rights of foreigners, 
particularly where the fundamental right of liberty is at stake. Rather 
than sending a strong message to deter potential migration, the 
government is instead sending a message that the rule of law is expendable.”

For the full report, please see:
	www.migration.org

For more information on the report, contact:
	Dr. Roni Amit
	Researcher, Forced Migration Studies Programme
	076 779 2118
	[log in to unmask]

For general information about migration, contact
	Prof. Loren Landau
	Director, Forced Migration Studies Programme
	011 717 4038 or 083 453 4183
	[log in to unmask]
	
Please send replies to: [log in to unmask]

--
Forced Migration Studies Programme
University of the Witwatersrand


-- 
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Note: The material contained in this communication comes to you from the 
Forced Migration Discussion List which is moderated by Forced Migration 
Online, Refugee Studies Centre (RSC), Oxford Department of International 
Development, University of Oxford. It does not necessarily reflect the 
views of the RSC or the University. If you re-print, copy, archive or 
re-post this message please retain this disclaimer. Quotations or 
extracts should include attribution to the original sources.

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