Helen Suzman Foundation rejects government's adaptation of white paper

Koena Mashale Journalist
Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi. File photo.
Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi. File photo.
Image: Trevor Samson

The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) has called on parliament not to adopt a white paper overhauling the country’s immigration laws.

The foundation's acting executive director, Naseema Fakir, said they rejected the adoption of the white paper which was announced by home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Wednesday.

Motsoaledi said there was wide support for the document's policy positions.

The White Paper on Citizenship, Immigration and Refugee Protection: Towards a Complete Overhaul of the Migration System in SA, was published in the Government Gazette for public comment in November 2023.

It suggests a raft of changes to immigration laws including SA's potential withdrawal from UN Convention and Protocol on refugees and asylum seekers.

“I intend to introduce a complementary and integrated bill in parliament based on the final white paper without further delay,” said Mostoaledi. 

Fakir said they find the approval disappointing.

"The Helen Suzman Foundation is dismayed by the cabinet’s decision to adopt as final the white paper. This despite strenuous objections from numerous civil society organisations, including HSF.

"In our submission on the white paper, HSF pointed out that the white paper fails the threshold for sound government policy‑making because it provides an inscrutable solution without properly defining the challenges which migration poses to SA.

"Instead, the white paper bemoans SA’s already strict legal regime for refugee protection and fails to recognise basic legal realities that prevent large-scale tightening of our refugee laws," Fakir said.

The foundation and other civil organisations slated government's mooted reforms of immigration laws, describing the proposals as "a threat to the security of refugees and migrants in SA". 

"The principle of non-refoulement and the constitution’s own rights prevent meaningful departure from the framework for refugee protection which SA already has.

"Moreover, the white papers’ calls for institutional reform, while perhaps laudable when considered on their own, distract from the department of home affair’s backlog and incapacity – neither of which are addressed in any detail in the white paper," Fakir said.


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