Decisions of refugee board come under fire
WHILE the world celebrates World Refugee Day today, the high court in Pretoria will hear legal arguments by the Somali Association of South Africa addressing the crisis of quality refugee adjudication at the Refugee Appeal Board.
It is contended that the board’s judgments reflected a pattern of unlawful and inadequate decision-making.
In particular on the applicants’ cases there arose a trend of four common errors frequently applied by the board. These included the misinterpretation and misapplication of the test for refugee status and applying the wrong burden of proof for asylum for applicants.
Another issue is the application of the wrong approach in assessing the credibility of each claim and failing to applying the principle of audi alteram partem and respecting procedural fairness.
“The results of these errors lead to vulnerable individuals fleeing war and internal displacement failing to access refugee protection despite being accommodated by the Refugees Act and International Refugee Conventions,” said Sharon Ekambaram, the head of the Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme at Lawyers for Human Rights.
She said the board’s quality of decision-making relating to these Somalian asylum seekers was systematically defective.
As a consequence, the applicants are not only asking the court to grant them refugee protection, but also structural relief to identify and address the underlying causes of the problems in the board’s decisionmaking which might result in their not receiving protection under the law.
Each year on June 20, the UN, the UN Refugee Agency and civic groups around the world host World Refugee Day events in order to draw the public’s attention to the millions of refugees and Internally displaced persons who have been forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict and persecution.