News & Events
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.
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 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.
The UCT Refugee Rights Unit is proud to announce that Ncumisa Wille has been selected to present a paper at the University of Georgia's African Studies Institute 3rd Annual International Conference on Africa and its Diaspora, which will take place in Atlanta, USA from 5 - 7 November 2014.
On 14 - 16 July 2014 the Refugee Rights Unit convened it's annual Sustained Advocacy for Empowered Refugees ("SAFER") Course. This three day course in refugee law and practice, rights assertion and community conflict resolution is aimed at empowering refugee community leaders, and South Africans working with refugee communities to better understand and thereafter be in a position to assert the rights that refugees are entitled to â€“ both as refugees specifically and as all persons in South Africa.
In 1997 the government of South Africa signed the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Last year, government submitted its initial State Party Report to the African Union (AU) Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child covering the period June 2000 to April 2013. Shortly thereafter, the civil society children's rights sector embarked on a process to draft a Shadow Report or alternative report for the AU Committee to consider.