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Lawyers for Human Rights call for deportation moratorium

Lawyers for Human Rights call for deportation moratorium
Hundreds of refugees and all of their belongings were sitting on vacant land near the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) District Six campus on Monday afternoon. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

Lawyers for Human Rights is calling for a moratorium on the detention and deportation of migrants as well as unnecessary arrests and detention for Schedule 1 offences. They believe the move could contribute toward stemming Covid-10 infection in South Africa. Below is a statement from their Acting National Director Michael Clements:

On Sunday, 15 March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. Lawyers for Human Rights is committed to helping to flatten the curve of this virus, and to reducing the impact on our already fragile healthcare system. As such, effective today, the organisation’s legal clinics will be closed for the next several weeks.

It is critical that during this time, the rights of vulnerable individuals and communities, including their access to justice and right to health, remain respected and protected.

To this end, LHR is today calling for a moratorium on the detention and deportation of migrants as well as unnecessary arrests and detention for Schedule 1 offences. Detained individuals in overcrowded detention centres such as Linda Repatriation, police stations, and remand prisons are at high risk of contracting and spreading the virus. These facilities are ill-equipped to deal with an outbreak of the disease. This is especially true in relation to the elderly and those suffering from chronic illnesses.

LHR is therefore calling for judges and magistrates to make greater provision for alternatives to detention for administrative detainees on the understanding that detention poses a further risk to the spread of the virus, that with fewer detainees in detention, the need for heightened medical treatment is decreased, and that an outbreak of the virus in detention centres will have a devastating effect on those populations and the country at large.

LFR further calls the Department of Home Affairs to present its plan of action regarding the renewal of asylum seeker permits, considering the President’s prohibition on gatherings of more than 100 people.

We remind our stakeholders and our clients that LHR remains ready and available to continue making rights real for all in South Africa, including during this challenging period. DM

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"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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