Promoting the rights of all those who live in South Africa

Johannesburg, Cape Town and a number of other urban centres in South Africa are home to a high concentration of migrants from beyond our borders, including asylum seekers and refugees.

In South Africa, local integration has been an important goal of the national refugee policy and model. In theory, this model aims to promote self-reliance of refugees, encouraging and allowing them to integrate into their new home. Unfortunately, a vast gap exists between policy and the reality experienced by refugees and asylum seekers.

In the absence of efficient and non-discriminatory processes to finalise applications for refugee status, and without relevant mechanisms to support their resettlement, refugees find it difficult to secure legal documentation, accommodation and employment, or to be part of an inclusive environment that embraces the benefits of social and cultural diversity.

This situation is further complicated by the restrictions on the right to work proposed by the Government in the 2016 draft Green Paper on International Migration and Refugees Amendment Bill (b12-2016).

Refugees, asylum seekers and migrants often live with the constant fear and face the reality of being arrested, detained and forcibly returned to their home countries. Often, they are denied access to basic services, such as education or healthcare, and are exposed to harassment, intimidation and discrimination due to their immigration status.

Securing migrants’ rights to access protection mechanisms and social services is crucial in overcoming the fundamental barriers to the full realisation of their rights.

The LRC is particularly concerned with challenging decisions made regarding the right to fair administrative action, securing the rights of refugees to work and study pending the finalisation of their applications, challenging the closures of Refugee Reception Offices, ensuring that the conditions and processes at the Lindela Repatriation Centre are lawful and securing the status of individual migrants.

Of particular concern are violations of the rights of refugees in relation to gender, gender identity and sexual orientation, statelessness, issues relating to the children of refugees, as well as the unlawful detention of refugees and asylum seekers. The LRC is committed to monitoring and advocating for South Africa’s observance of the relevant international treaties and conventions pertaining to refugees.