Parliament Passes Refugees Amendment Bill


Parliament has passed the Refugees Amendment Bill and sent it to president Zuma for assent.

In November, the national council of provinces (NCOP) sent the Refugees Amendment Bill back to the national assembly (NA) to consider proposed amendments.

The bill was tabled in parliament in September 2016.

The NA passed the bill and sent it to the NCOP for concurrence in March 2017.

The proposed legislation is designed to add further provisions to current legislation relating to disqualification from refugee status for asylum seekers.

Drawn up by the home affairs department, the bill seeks to introduce amendments to the Refugees Act of 1998.

The proposed legislation also aims to:

•    provide for integrity measures to combat fraud and corruption among staff members at Refugee Reception Offices, the Standing Committee and the Refugee Appeals Authority;
•    omit provisions referring to the Status Determination Committee;
•    substitute certain provisions relating to the Refugee Appeals Authority;
•    provide for the re-establishment of the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs and to confer additional powers on the Standing Committee;
•    confer additional powers on the Director-General;
•    clarify the procedure relating to conditions attached to asylum seeker visas and abandonment of applications;
•    revise provisions relating to the review of asylum applications;
•    provide for the withdrawal of refugee status in respect of categories of refugees; and
•    provide for additional offences and penalties.

The select committee had proposed an amendment to clause 15 stipulating that an asylum seeker must be assisted by an officer at the Refugee Reception Office designated to receive asylum seekers.

The national assembly agreed to the proposal.

Sabinet Cape Town Office

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