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This UDHR Day we call on South African Government to treat Asylum Seekers with Respect and Dignity

Melanie Nathan of the African Human Rights Coalition:  We have had many reports of the harsh inhumane treatment metered out on Asylum seekers in South Africa:

 

@PresidencyZA ‏ @CyrilRamaphosa ‏ @DeidreCarterMP @JacksonMthembu_ ‏ @DrBladeNzimande ‏ @HomeAffairsSA  #FatimaChohan #SouthAfrica

On this the day we celebrate the 70th year of the #UDHR - please take a hard look at your deplorable treatment of African asylum seekers and #refugees from Northern countries. People, including mothers with babies on their backs, are whipped by police as they stand for hours, day after day, in the baking sun, waiting to be processed, often weeks go by and nothing happens, except more beatings. LGBTQ people who are persecuted - again suffer the very trauma that led to their exile - as they fear SA security in the line that is supposed to provide sanctuary.


Here is an example of one of many accounts of abuse that we have received at African HRC:

"The first day went to the home affairs in Pretoria at 6.00 am. I was let in safe and was taking to new comers waiting area were I was there till about 2pm then I was send to a hall. Many of us were there till 4pm.  Then they ask us to go home and come back next week which i did return the next week.  I was taken in for capturing.  After capturing I was send upstairs for interview.  

So I went and and whenI enter the officer was eating.  I greeted her but she didn't answer me rather shouted at me.  Then ask me to come back when she is done.  Then when I went out and was standing there with other nationals then they started sharing their experience.  So many complaining of how there are being molested, abuse and insulted using words like eg you Nigerians you left you country to come and be doing crimes here they would slap and push.

 

Some at the interview will demand for money before any interview some pay 5000 Rand and some less.

 

So when she was done and I enter she ask me what national am i. I said Cameroonian.  She ask i speak English coz there is no translator there i told her yes i speak English.  Then a Somalian lady comes in with a guy and tell her that she is there with the money she ask me again to go out let her finish with the guy.  

That was about 2pm. So i went out and was just standing in front of her office when another immigration officer came and ask me which agent send me.  I ask him agent of what he then ask me if I dont have money.  I told him that before I was let inside the hall for capturing they collected 4500rand from me on the pretext that is for capturing and interview.

So i dont understand what he is talking about - why she push me out and ask me to go then i went again out and stand till the lady was done with the Somalian.  I went in she just shouted at me and said time is 3.30 pm and she closes at 4pm and she is tired of hearing any lesbian story.  She said we should be ashamed of lesbian.

I stood there she then ask me to sit and start the interview. During this time other officers keep coming in to ask her questions about me in one of the local languages here.  Then an officer came in and talk to her that she do not need to be told that am a lesbian that from my looks one do not need to be told. You can see I am a lesbian they told.

Then she was calm then when she was done an other lady came into her office she rake on her like fire . Then I got something saying they did not believe I am lesbian and I am denied. 

 

Then I went there again to submit my appeal.   I discover that the main entrance was lock so went to the exit gate and saw the security. I ask them that where can I deliver this letter of appeal?  They said i must pay for my entrance which i did that.

That was about 8 am.  When I enter inside I saw people standing under the sun women with babies if one even try to ask for directives from a security is either being push or slap on the face or not even answer you.

 

So i move from one gate to an other countless time later an officer came and said all those for appeal should make a line which we all did and was under the sun for the whole day. No one came and the line did hardly move an inch. Then we had to go home and come back next week.  Same thing again. Three times. Last time I am threatened to be arrested. Now I am scared to go back. 

Thee treatment we as asylum seekers get there is not fair at all we being treated as slaves like non human right up to a security has the right to abuse people coming to seek asylum.  People are being rob there of phones and money.  Nothing is being done there is a lot to write down but the more I talk about at the i picture what is going on there i can call it a business center for south Africans working there.  not a refugee center sorry to say there we have no right something need to be done."

 

South Africa is the only country on the continent that offers full equality to LGBTQI people. No lesbian should be turned away under any circumstances. Deportation is a death sentence. Without asylum refugees are unable to work and survive.  This is simply unconscionable. There is nowhere else to go for LGBTQI asylum seekers. 

South Africa ought to be ashamed. What happened to the dream of #Madiba? Human Rights? Basic Human Rights - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That is not way to treat fellow Africans. To fail to treat vulnerable persecuted people with respect?  To afford rights to those who would be protected by the South African Constitution for sexuality which is criminalized in their own countries. Why has the SA government not trained its officers properly? President Ramaphosa this is now your responsibility.  The corruption and abuse is rife. It is time to launch investigations into this and ensure decency and basic kindness, as a start. South Africa must follow its international obligations and launch a dramatic overhaul of its systems and process. 

 

Refugee Process is explained here on the SA Gov Website: http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/refugee-status-asylum 

 

 

 

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