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Zimbabwe Exiles Forum presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs - Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

Zimbabwe Exiles Forum
Contact: zimexilesforum@webmail.co.za

30 August 2005

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Executive Summary

"South Africa must not only be proudly South African, but deservedly must be proud to be host to potential victims of genocide, torture and crimes against Humanity, not only in Africa but in tho world as a wholo"
Quote of Mr Gabriel Shumba, the Executive Director of Zimbabwe Exiles Forum.


The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (2EF) submits to the Parliament of South Africa through the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs issues regarding refugees and asylum seekers that need urgent attention.

ZEF has possession of irrefutable evidence of past and ongoing human rights violations bedeviling asylum seekers and refugees seeking sanctuary in South Africa. Issues of concern include, asylum seeking procedural hurdles (queues, bribery, time that it take to reach final determination of status) [1), ill-treatment of asylum seekers and refugees (discrimination and exploitation at the work places, lack of medical support) [2], gruelling repatriation process (no clear time frame for time of detention and deportation, payment of bribes as a requirement for freedom and to be released when papers are maliciously destroyed by police [3], torture, inhuman and degrading conditions- assaults, lack of sanitary facilities and general abuse, lack of timeous medical attention, deaths and allegations of sexual molestation) [4], legal framework (inconsistencies of national Refugee Act and its regulation to regional and international refugee rights obligations [5] and lack of humanitarian support (No shelter is provided, No food and No free education) [6].

In line with the above, ZEF is strongly recommending that,
  • The Government of South Africa takes measures to strengthen the security of asylum seekers and refugees.
  • In terms of humanitarian assistance, the government of South Africa is urged to consider providing humanitarian assistance to asylum seekers and refugees such as shelter, food, medication, free education among others.
  • The Government of South Africa should as a matter of urgency establish adequately staffed Refugee Reception Offices country-wide1, including the provision of qualified interpreters.
  • The Government is humbly called upon to educate Home Affairs Personnel on the rights and obligations of asylum seekers.
  • The government is further urged to immediately commission a study on the extent to which the Refugees Act complies with regional and international norms and standards.
  • The government is requested to urgently consider placing Lindela Repatriation Centre under its direct control and administration instead of outsourcing it to the private sector.
  • South Africa, as a power broker is urged to consider how best they can help resolve the Zimbabwean crisis without delay.


Footnotes:
  1. To comply wilh Section 21 (1) of ihe Refugees Act.


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