|2012 06 20 Press Release: Closure of Refugee Reception Centre - LRC files court application|
For Immediate Release: Wednesday 20 June 2012
On behalf of the Scalabrini Centre, the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) yesterday filed an application in the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town.
Part A of the application seeks an urgent order directing the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to ensure that a Refugee Reception Office remains open and fully functional within the Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality. This will enable new applicants for asylum to make applications for and be issued with section 22 permits.
Part B of the application asks the court for an order declaring the DHA's decision to close the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office (CTRRO) to new applicants for asylum to be unlawful and be reviewed and set aside.
In her founding affidavit, Miranda Madikane, the Director of the Scalabrini Centre, said the DHA's decision was taken despite the fact that there is no alternative office for the provision of such services in the Western Cape, and that there are no plans to establish an alternative office for the provision of such services in the province.
The decision was also taken without any form of proper public consultation and despite the fact that the Eastern Cape High Court has already ruled that unless the Standing Committee is consulted in respect of such a decision, it is unlawful.
"As things stand, the CTRRO is the only place in the Western Cape at which asylum-seekers may apply for asylum. The CTRRO has fulfilled this function since 2000.
In the first four months of this year, the CTRRO received 5 946 new applications for asylum. That amounts to 1500 per month or 18 000 per year," Madikane said.
It is feared that this closure is a part of a pattern of country-wide conduct by the DHA which has had and will continue to have significant negative effects on the ability of asylum-seekers to exercise their statutory and constitutional rights to apply for asylum.
William Kerfoot, an LRC attorney in Cape Town said "at many levels there appears to be a crackdown on asylum-seekers and refugees. Last year asylum- seekers were denied assistance for not having asylum transit permits and many asylum-seekers were unlawfully arrested upon receiving negative results from the Refugee Appeal Board or the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs.
"Generally there has been failure to provide identity and travel documents for refugees and asylum-seekers. There has also been harassment of foreign owners of spaza shops and small businesses," he said.
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