Cabinet approves White Paper on citizenship, immigration, refugees

The final white paper on citizenship, immigration, and refugee protection has been approved by cabinet and gazetted by the government of South Africa. 
Home Affairs minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said cabinet approved the final white paper last week Wednesday, and it was published in the government gazette a week later (April 17). 
Motsoaledi was speaking on Wednesday during a media briefing at the GCIS Media Offices in Hatfield, Pretoria. 
He was speaking on the final White Paper on Citizenship, Immigration and Refugee Protection: Towards a complete overhaul of the Migration system in South Africa.
Amendment of the current Act recommended
The final white paper makes radical proposals that the Citizenship Act, Immigration Act and Refugees Act be amended. 
It also proposes that South Africa reconsiders its accession to international treaty involving refugee protection. 
“The Department of Home Affairs carefully and duly considered all the oral and written submissions. This final White Paper is the product of robust engagements.
“The Cabinet of the Republic of South Africa approved this final White Paper on Wednesday (April 10). And it has been published in the Government Gazette today,” said Motsoaledi. 
Motsoaledi welcomed the public comments received when the white paper was initially published. It was published in the government gazette in November last year. 
“The responses have been overwhelming. Individuals, that is citizens, asylum seekers and refugees as well as public interest groups. Also companies, national and local government departments, premiers, research institutes and political parties. International bodies and many others made their voices heard and made constructive comments.
Public hearings in all nine provinces
“The [department’s] team and I conducted public hearings in all nine provinces. The outcome of the engagements … is that the white paper policy position enjoys wide support.
“Only a handful of public interest groups are opposed to selected policy positions. These include the withdrawal of the 1951 Refugee Convention the 1967 Protocol and re-acceding to them with reservations. The proposed repeal of Section 4 (3) of the South African Citizenship Act. And the First Safe Country principle,” said Motsoaledi. 
The minister also spoke on international agreements that South Africa is party to. He said the White Paper seeks to open a path for government to exercise its right. This refers to its right to make reservations on some elements of the agreements.
“In 1996, two years after the first democratic elections, South Africa acceded to various international agreements such as the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol. Also the 1969 OAU [Organisation of African Unity] Convention and other international instruments. This was done without the government having developed a clear policy on migration, including refugee protection.
1996 Act did not have certain reservations
“The government did not make reservations and exceptions permitted in terms of international law. The white paper proposes that the government must review and/or withdraw from the 1951 Convention. This includes the 1967 Protocol, with a view to accede to them with reservations like many countries did.
“All the … government intends achieving is to exercise its right granted in Article 42 of the 1951 Convention. As well as Article 7 of the 1967 Protocol and make reservations accordingly,” said Motsoaledi. 
“The Refugee Protection and Immigration legislation must provide for reservations and exceptions. This as contained in the 1951 Convention and the 1969 OAU Convention. Particularly in that South Africa does not have the resources to grant the socio-economic rights. These rights are envisaged in the 1951 Convention.” 
Motsoaledi said a complimentary and integrated bill (based on the final White Paper) will be introduced in Parliament without any further delay. 

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