Immigration policy under spotlight

Human rights issues concerning refugees, immigrants and exiles needed urgent discussion at all three levels of government, experts said yesterday during a panel discussion at Wits University.

Human rights issues concerning refugees, immigrants and exiles needed urgent discussion at all three levels of government, experts said yesterday during a panel discussion at Wits University.

The discussion dealt with the Central Methodist Church raid as well as the country's immigration policy.

The panel - made up of participants from Lawyers for Human Rights, the City of Johannesburg, the Zimbabwe Exiles' Forum and the Human Rights Commission - highlighted the lack of understanding that civil servants, police and South African citizens have of the humanitarian issues involved in dealing with immigrants, refugees and exiles.

Methodist Bishop Paul Verryn, whose church was raided, said police displayed xenophobia and a lack of understanding of the issues faced by immigrants.

Lawyer David Cote said the failure of the raid was because of a lack of tools available to police to access documents and papers and a lack of understanding in dealing with foreign nationals. - Sapa

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