Please note: On 12 November 2023, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi issued a media statement among other things noting that, once finalised and adopted, the proposed new policy framework will:

  • ‘discourage asylum seekers who deliberately fail to apply for asylum at the first safe country ... (that is) signatory to the 1951 Convention, the 1967 Protocol and the 1969 OAU Convention’ (links to which are provided below)
  • ‘deter economic migrants who come to South Africa disguis(ed) as asylum seekers’, and
  • go some way towards curbing the visa system abuse associated with ‘bogus’ marriages and ‘life partnership agreements’. 

The Department of Home Affairs has released a draft White Paper on citizenship, immigration and refugee protection for public comment.

Gazetted on 11 November 2023 and backdated to the previous day, the draft White Paper has since been withdrawn and replaced. Stakeholders have until 19 January 2024 to submit their input.

According to its long title, the document forms part of a broader process intended to culminate in a ‘complete overhaul’ of South Africa’s ‘migration system’.

To that end, policy proposals include:

  • withdrawing from the 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees and related 1967 protocol, with a view to acceding to them with reservations, as other countries cited in the document have done, and
  • amending the prevailing legislation to provide for those reservations, as well as exceptions reflected in the 1969 AU Convention on Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa.

This is noting that South Africa ‘does not have the resources to grant the socio-economic rights envisaged in the 1951 Convention’.

Published by SA Legal Academy Policy Watch

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