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The immigration bill from a human rights perspective

7. Conclusion

I began this presentation with the comment that this new legislation provides us with an opportunity to change our approach from a control orientation to managing the movements of people based on an understanding of migration dynamics. The SAHRC asserts that legislation on International Migration must have an emphasis on a clear and coherent policy that is applicable, understood and where management systems are in place. If properly effected, this should ensure pre-entry, on-entry and after-entry systems such that information on migrating to South Africa is available from South African missions abroad; immigration officers are trained to be more welcoming and informative about migration policy. In this way it may not be necessary to “avoid” legal entry if one is assured of appropriate and clearly understood consideration.

Attention should be paid to improving Department of Home Affairs procedures, speed up processing and address corruption within the system. Penalties must be directed as much towards those who employ undocumented migrants as to the illegal immigrants themselves. What all this implies is that there can be no short-term quick fix solutions to how we go about this. We need a long term, comprehensive and integrated approach that addresses all elements of the migration chain. Addressing the management of migration this way will be in keeping with present and future government policies such as NEPAD and the African Union.

In the National Action Plan15 (HR’s) South Africa has publicly committed itself to the following further challenges:

  • We must sign and ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

  • We need to align legislation with international instruments and treaties.

  • South Africa is struggling with the problems of a large number of undocumented immigrants.

  • There is a need to address the rights of undocumented immigrants especially in view of international human rights provisions, while at the same time protecting the interests and rights of South African citizens.

  • There is increasing xenophobia, especially against other Africans.

  • We need to create greater public awareness among service providers and law enforcement officers on the rights of aliens and undocumented immigrants/migrants.
  • The eradication of corruption and fraud.

  • Trading and small business documentation.16
  1. National Action Plan op cit. note 4
  2. National Action Plan op cit. note 4 at p 76

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