Press review 31| 28 July to 03 August 2014
Asylum Seeker / Refugee Issues
Paul Farell, The Guardian, 28 July 2014
The Australian federal government has asked the Indian high commission to interview some of the 157 Tamil asylum seekers who were held at sea for weeks. The immigration minister, Scott Morrison has said that the Australian government is making arrangements to facilitate access by Indian consular officials to those who may have been Indian nationals or were residents of India, which includes those who have been resident in refugee camps, to determine their eligibility for possible return to India. Opposition members have said that there is no basis in law for India’s involvement in the assessment of these asylum claims in Australia. Refugee lawyer David Manne added that it’s a fundamental principle of refugee law that no person should have to deal with or interact with the authorities of another country without first having their claims for protection assessed.
Kimeng Hilton Ndukong, Cameroon Tribute, 29 July 2014
Radio France Internationale has reported that the Republic of Congo has either expelled or returned home a total of 140,000 citizens from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo in the last three months as a result of the government’s drive to expel all undocumented foreigners in the country. The most recent deportees were those resident in the country’s commercial capital, Pointe-Noire, while previous deportations occurred largely from Brazzaville. The government has now focused on cab drivers, a profession the authorities say is no longer available to foreigners. United Nations officials last May demanded that the Republic of the Congo immediately stop expelling DRC citizens and called for investigations into allegations of sexual violence and other human rights violations in the course of the deportations and stressed that all deportations should be made in strict compliance with the principles and rules of international law.
Kim Lewis, Voice of America, 1 August 2014
World Food Program (WFP) executive director Ertharin Cousin says food insecurity in Malakal, South Sudan is increasing as over a million homeless have fled violence in the country. After an inspection of the northeastern town which once had a population of about 140,000, Cousin said it was a ghost town where all of the residents have abandoned their homes because of the threat of violence. He added that many who are not in internally displaced persons’ camps are living in the bush with no access to food or water. Cousin listed other Africa regions with food security problems, such as the escalating challenges in Somalia, a region that is experiencing a drought. But, Cousin said WFP has limited access to that area because of the threat of the Islamist militants of al-Shabab. Seven months of fighting in the Central African Republic has made access to areas outside of Bangui difficult to reach to provide people in need with food assistance. Many people are fleeing their homes there and are pouring into nearby neighbors Chad and Cameroon where the WFP is providing assistance. She also mentioned food challenges in conflicts in Nigeria and Mali that are affecting populations and are forcing people to move from their homes, leaving them with no access to food.
BBC News, 1 August 2014
Uganda’s Constitutional Court has annulled tough anti-gay legislation signed into law in February. Homosexual acts were already illegal, but the new law allowed for life imprisonment for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ and banned the ‘promotion of homosexuality’. Earlier drafts of the anti-homosexuality act made it a crime not to report gay people – which would have made it impossible to live as openly gay – but this clause was removed. However, the legislation that was passed in parliament was ‘null and void’, the presiding judge at the Constitutional Court said, as not enough lawmakers had been present to vote on the bill.
BBC News, 3 August 2014
A senior US health official has said the outbreak was out of control but insisted it could be stopped as the US plans to send at least 50 public health experts to West Africa to help fight the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola. The pandemic has claimed 728 lives in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone this year. The experts will arrive in West Africa within 30 days to fight the disease. They said that they do know how to stop Ebola. The National Institutes of Health in the US has said it will begin testing a possible Ebola vaccine in September.
BBC News, 1 August 2014
A Somali MP, Aden Madeer, who was the chairman of the parliamentary finance committee, has been assassinated in Mogadishu when he left a mosque in the city after Friday prayers; he is the fifth parliamentarian to be killed this year. Last month, popular musician and MP Saado Ali Warsame was shot dead by al-Shabab gunmen. Al-Shabab has said they would continue to target MPs who supported the UN-backed government. ‘The murder of MPs is an attempt to intimidate and undermine those working to build a better Somalia. Their killers will not achieve that objective,’ UN envoy Nicholas Kay said in a statement. Some 22,000 African Union troops are helping the government try to win back territory from the group. They have taken back several key cities over the last three years, but al-Shabab still controls many smaller towns and rural areas of the country – and regularly launches attacks in Mogadishu.
Daneel Knoetze, GoundUp, 28 July 2014
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) has confirmed that it is investigating claims of police officers dragging a gay Congolese man to a back room of Claremont police station and beating him with metal poles. The victim, a 26-year-old refugee, says police shouted homophobic slurs at him before and during the attack. He added that he had to escape his own country, because his homosexuality resulted in people abusing and beating him wherever he went. The assault came when he tried to report his landlord, with whom he lives in a house in Claremont, for refusing to allow him to have his lover or other male friends over as visitors.
Shanghai Daily, 1 August 2014
The South African government pledged to mitigate the possible unintended consequences of the new immigration regulations. The statement was jointly issued by the Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba and the Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom. There has been an avalanche of criticism since the regulations came into effect on May 26. One of the most significant changes in the new regulations is that visa applications or extensions can now only be made at missions abroad where details are biometrically captured and visas are collected in person. Another change is that anyone traveling with a minor will also now need to be in possession of the child’s unabridged birth certificate and, in some cases, affidavits by missing parents as well as translations of birth certificates issued in other languages.
Credit: Scalabrini Centre