Report on asylum-seekers trying to legalise themselves at Cape Town Refugee Reception Office
31st May 2011: Exposing the ruthless behavior towards asylum-seekers making attempts to legalise themselves at the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office in Maitland, a report by PASSOP says in just about two weeks more than 1600 people were turned away unassisted.
Out of these, several were physically abused. In effect, the asylum seekers were left without even toilets for about a month.
The monitoring report, “The Road to Documentation: Asylum Seekers’ -Access to the Cape Town Refugee Reception Centre”, is being released on 31st May 2011.
PASSOP or People against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty is a community-based, grassroots non-profit organization devoted to protecting and lobbying for the rights of asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants in South Africa.
The launch will also see a discussion chaired by Braam Hanekom, the monitoring Project Manager, Alaina Varvaloucas, and monitors Stanford Hove and Kumbirai Bvuna.
PASSOP said: `In the past few months, Parliament has passed several major changes to the Immigration Act of 2002, two of which PASSOP believes will significantly affect asylum-seekers.
`The first is reducing the asylum transit permit, a 14-day permit, which allows asylum-seekers to enter South Africa provided they report to a Refugee Reception Office (RRO) within the allotted 14 days, to 5 days.
`The second is instituting jail sentences of 2.5-4 years for undocumented migrants and for those caught aiding or knowingly employing undocumented migrants.
`Since refugee reception centres around South Africa operate at an under-capacity, many new asylum-seekers are not able to successfully get access to an RRO’s services within 14 days, and many more go undocumented because they are consistently turned away from centres and refused documents. Reducing the asylum transit permit—often referred to as a border pass—to 5 days will thus be to the detriment of thousands more asylum-seekers, and mandating that an undocumented migrant be jailed with criminals for several years, especially when that migrant may be undocumented through no fault of his or her own, is a cruel overreaction’.