Press review 39: 22-28 September 2014

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Tags: Africa Border Crossing LGBTI asylum migration management press review South Africa

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Asylum Seeker/Refugee Policy Issues

Official: Refugees could soon settle in Cambodia
Associated Press, 25 September 2014

Refugees rejected by Australia could be resettled in Cambodia this year under a bilateral agreement to be signed Friday that will cost the Australian government more than 10 million Australian dollars ($9 million) a year, a senior minister said. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison will sign a memorandum of understanding with Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng in Phnom Penh to resettle an unspecified number of refugees currently held at an Australia-run detention camp on the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru. Under the deal, Australia would pay Cambodia AU$40 million ($35 million) over four years, plus carry the costs of resettlement, Morrison said. The Cambodian deal is the latest step in Australia’s evolving policy of deterring asylum seekers from attempting to reach Australian shores by boat. The government has vowed that no boat arrivals will ever be resettled in Australia.

Australian-Cambodian refugee agreement could set disturbing precedent – UN agency
UN News Centre, 26 September 2014

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today expressed deep apprehension today over a new refugee agreement between Australia and Cambodia barring Nauru refugees seeking Australia’s protection from settling there, offering them instead settlement in Cambodia. UNHCR consistently advocates for asylum-seekers to have their claims assessed under the protection of the State where they arrive or which has jurisdiction over them. In this case, the refugees were forcibly transferred to Nauru for assessment under what UNHCR considers harmful conditions. While UNHCR recognizes the challenges of people moving by sea in the region, it believes that solutions lie in broad-based regional cooperation, in which all States play their part.

Germany organizing conference on refugee crisis
Associated Press, 23 September 2014

Germany’s Foreign Ministry has announced that it is organizing an international conference on the refugee crisis resulting from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. The announcement comes after Turkish officials stated that about 130,000 refugees from Syria had spilled into their country over the past four days as they fled the advance of Islamic State militants. There have been nearly 3 million refugees, including more than 1 million who have fled into Turkey, since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

Gay Asylum Seekers Forced to ‘Prove’ Their Sexuality
William Lee Adams, Newsweek, 25 September 2014

The United Kingdom has recognised asylum claims based on sexual orientation and gender since 1999, offering hope to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people who live in the 81 jurisdictions around the world that currently criminalise consensual same sex acts. The death penalty remains on the books in five countries – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and Mauritania – as well as in parts of Nigeria and Somalia. For immigration officials, the consequences of deporting a legitimate asylum seeker are high, but so is the difficulty of assessing whether an LGBTI applicant is actually LGBTI. Trusting self-disclosure alone opens the system up to potential abuse. At the same time, asking certain questions and accepting certain evidence may violate the refugee’s dignity and pile more abuse on the abused. Guidance will come later this year when the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice, which oversees asylum policy for EU member states, rules on how far authorities can go to determine whether someone is who he or she claims to be. However, this fixation on sexual conduct glosses over the reality that being gay encompasses much more than sex. S Chelvan, a barrister who specialises in asylum cases, has developed a system of trigger questions that lead to further investigation, and that don’t stray into the ­pornographic. His Difference, Stigma, Shame, Harm (DSSH) guidelines have been endorsed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and been tested by authorities in Cyprus, Finland and Germany, among other countries.

International

Ebola-hit nations may ‘face collapse’
BBC News, 24 September 2014

The Ebola outbreak threatens to become a political crisis that could unravel years of effort to stabilise West Africa. The world’s largest outbreak of Ebola has caused 2,811 deaths so far, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Both Liberia and Sierra Leone are recovering from brutal civil wars and Guinea has faced coups and ethnic unrest. Adding social breakdown to the epidemic would create disaster perhaps impossible to manage. The international community therefore needs to provide more personnel and resources not only to the immediate medical response but also to the longer-term problems of strengthening governance and rebuilding health-care systems. A meeting is expected to take place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York to consider the next steps to deal with the outbreak. With warnings of soaring food prices and possible shortages, reopening borders with appropriate surveillance measures must be a top priority for West African governments.

New Study Warns of Thousands More Ebola Cases in W. Africa
Lisa Schlein, Voice of America, 23 September 2014

A new study warns of tens of thousands of Ebola cases in West Africa in the coming months if swift action is not taken to curb this deadly disease. The report notes the world was late in reacting to the Ebola epidemic and has a lot of catching up to do to control and reverse the trend of infections. The latest WHO figures put the number of cases at more than 5,800, with at least 2,800 deaths. Professor of Statistical Epidemiology at Imperial College and co-author of the report, Christl Donnelly said the number of cases is projected to quadruple by the end of October.

Chad becomes 37th African state to seek ban on homosexuality
David Smith, The Guardian, 22 September 2014

Chad looks set to become the 37th country in Africa to outlaw homosexuality after government ministers voted to make same-sex relations a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The decision, yet to be ratified by the country’s president, was condemned by human rights groups as another setback in the struggle for gay rights on the continent. Chad’s penal code is more than half a century old and does not explicitly mention homosexuality, but section 361 of a draft new code states the punishment for anyone who has sexual intercourse with someone of the same sex is 15 to 20 years in jail and a fine of 50,000-500,000 Central African francs (£60-£600).

Impoverished Zim squeezes poor
Jason Moyo, Mail & Guardian, 19 September 2014

The Zimbabwean government is shaking down its own citizens for cash because there are no foreign donors or investors willing to cough up – and it is poor people who are feeling the brunt. With no external budgetary support and the country increasingly importing more than it exports, citizens have become the government’s target as a source of income.At his mid-term fiscal policy review last week,   Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa announced a range of new taxes and levies on goods such as beverages, blankets, imported soap and furniture.Not even charities have been spared. Donated goods, said Chinamasa, ended up being sold, and so rebates on duty on imported foodstuffs for welfare groups were removed. Taxes account for 94% of all government revenue, according to labour economist Godfrey Kanyenze, and he said the state will continue to seek new ways to squeeze money out of people as long as it remains un-able to get foreign financial support. The biggest shock was Chinamasa’s 5% tax on cellphone airtime and a 25% duty on cellphones.

Worst case: ‘Ebola could infect 1.4 million, rumble on for years, become a permanent feature, lead to new conflict’
Mail & Guardian, 24 September 2014

The number of Ebola infections in Liberia and Sierra Leone could skyrocket to 1.4 million by January 2015, according to a worst-case scenario released by US health authorities Tuesday. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that Ebola cases in these two West African nations could range between 550,000 and 1.4 million cases by January 20, 2015. The Ebola epidemic has killed 2,811 people of the 5,864 infected since the beginning of the year in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).The research paper warns that the outbreak could drag on for years and become entrenched in West Africa.Liberian Information Minister Lewis Brown has warned that the slow international response could result in a slide back into civil war or deadly unrest in the region.

South Africa

Zimbabweans in SA can renew work permits from next week
Sapa, Times LIVE, 25 September 2014

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has announced that Zimbabweans working in South Africa can begin renewing their special work permits next week. Only the approximately 245,000 holders of the Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project (DZP) are eligible to apply for the ZSP. VFS Global, a world-wide outsourcing and technology services specialist for diplomatic missions and governments, has been appointed to manage visa and permit applications in South Africa. The company is now ready to process the Zimbabwean immigrants, and has secured all 10 ZSP application centres. These include totally new centres in Midrand, Gauteng; Cape Town, Western Cape; Polokwane, Limpopo; and Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. The remaining six centres are in George, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley, Bloemfontein, Nelspruit, and Rustenburg. The applications will cost R870.

Visa hearings: ‘cost to tourism too high’
Warda Meyer, IOL Travel, 26 September 2014

Key figures in Cape Town’s tourism industry added their voices to the chorus of disapproval over the country’s new visa regulations during public hearings on Thursday. The two-day hearings, called by the provincial parliament’s standing committee on economic development and tourism, heard submissions from Wesgro, the CTICC, Cape Town Tourism and law firm ENSafrica, among others. Raising concerns about the in-person applications for biometric intake, the critical skills list, loss of investment and ultimately job creation, stakeholders were outspoken about their experiences. The CTICC’s Megan Arendse said the new legislation posed a real threat to business tourism and could inhibit growth of the international association conference sector, which was a key driver of economic growth and job creation in the province. Arendse believed that should the new legislation come into effect, there would be a further decline in attendance figures for conferences and trade fairs. Cape Town Tourism chief executive Enver Duminy said they estimated that about 250 000 fewer tourists would visit due to the additional red tape, and the cost would be about R2.5bn to R3bn in direct spending.

Court: Home Affairs disregarded rights
News 24, 23 September 2014

Home Affairs officials acted with flagrant disregard for the human rights of Botswana national Edwin Samotse when they deported him, the North Gauteng High Court ruled on Tuesday. Samotse, a wanted murder-accused in his home country, was deported despite a South African court order barring the extradition. He faces the death penalty in his country, and his deportation was deemed illegal and unconstitutional. Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid SA approached the court in a bid to compel home affairs to find Samotse in Botswana and seek assurance that he would not face the death penalty if convicted.

SA to Deport Illegal Zimbas
NewsdzeZimbabwe, 28 September 2014

South Africa has issued a deportation warning starting this week for Zimbabwean residents who failed to acquire permits under the 2010 Dispensation for Zimbabwe Project (DZP). Home Affairs director-general, Mr. Mkuseli Apleni stated that this move is in line with new immigration regulations, as it applies to all undocumented immigrants, not just those from Zimbabwe.

Tags: Africa    Border Crossing    LGBTI asylum    migration management    press review    South Africa   

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Content credit: Scalabrini Centre
Image credit: Jessica Rinaldi - Reuters