News & Events
On Monday 29 April 2019 renowned refugee law scholar and University of Michigan Law School Professor James Hathaway sat down for a Conversation on Refugee Law Challenges in Cape Town with the UNHCR, members of the South African Judiciary and Refugee Appeal Board, academics, refugee lawyers, and civil society.
On 30 January 2018 James Chapman presented a workshop at the Adonis Musati Project offices in Cape Town. The workshop was attended by twenty community leaders working towards furthering the rights of refugees in South Africa.
Information Sharing Session
The Refugee Rights Unit hosted a community information sharing session at the University of Cape Town. The session was attended by representatives of the Adonis Musati Project and the Woman and Children at Concern (“WCC”) community organisation. Popo Mfubu delivered a presentation on the Refugee Rights Unit’s work, while Gahlia Brogneri, director and co-founder of Adonis Musati provided information on the services provided by Adonis Musati.
On 29 January 2018, the Refugee Rights Unit represented by James Chapman met with the Red Cross Children's Hospital Developmental Paediatric Team. At the training session James Chapman discussed issues encountered by refugees and asylum seekers concerning documentation, school placement, access to special schooling and social grants.
We are commemorating the World Refugee Day and acknowledging the circumstances and plight of refugees. We also wish to celebrate the successes and triumphs of refugees and asylum seekers who have persevered and in some cases thrived, despite adversity. We will hear first hand from a Refugee about her experiences, challenges faced and successes. Thereafter we will watch the widely acclaimed film 'After Spring' to raise awareness and help people to learn about who refugees are and consider their experiences and circumstances.
The Refugee Rights Unit recently presented a paper on Hidden, Irregular and Forced Migration at a conference on migration organised by the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Presented by Ncumisa Willie, an attorney in the unit, the paper, which she co-authored with the unit director Fatima Khan, highlighted the ways in which recent government policy shifts in the asylum process contribute to the proliferation of “hidden” and irregular migrants in South Africa.
The refugee crisis in Europe has not only highlighted the limitations of dated international laws on asylum seekers, but different interpretations of the EU’s Schengen rules and the Dublin Convention have also clouded responses to the crisis, said refugee rights scholar Fatima Khan.
In July 2012, the Department of Home Affairs made a policy decision to close the Refugee Reception Offices in the southern provinces of South Africa, but specifically the Cape Town Office to newcomers. In addition, this policy requires all persons that did not originally receive their permits in Cape Town to now return to their office of first application if they wish to reside in South Africa legally and have their permits extended. The effect of this policy is to restrict the movement of asylum seekers to the northern areas of South Africa.
The UCT Refugee Rights Unit would like to condemn in the strongest possible terms the Xenophobic Violence in 2015 and stands in opposition to any attempts to intimidate, attack, kill or in any other way harm or unfairly discriminate against foreign nationals in South Africa.
On the 6th of May, Kramer Law School Building hosted a public interest careers expo. Non-governmental organisations and law clinics showed up to promote their organisation's public interest involvement. Our two research assistants, Lisa Wood and Shamima Allie, represented the UCT Refugee Rights Unit at this event. The expo was aimed at students of the law faculty and was intended to inform them of the options they could pursue in the public interest side of the law.
In 2013, the UCT Refugee Rights Unit produced the textbook Refugee Law in South Africa. The book was edited by Fatima Khan and Tal Schreier and published by Juta and Co Ltd. Fatima Khan motivated in her acknowledgements why a textbook on refugee law is so crucial: "I am committed to the view that the law and knowledge of the law can make a critical difference to the well-being of refugees in South Africa."
Resounding success was the sentiment expressed by many at the end to the first ever African Leaders and Experts conference on International Refugee Law. From the 18th to the 21st of November 2014 the University of Cape Town Refugee Rights Unit in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had the pleasure to host the Cape Town Programme on International Refugee Law. The training and dialogue involved senior officials from 12 SADC Countries and leading experts on Refugee Law and senior officials from the South African Department of Home Affairs.