‘Shocking’ judgment for Somali asylum seekers

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) has described the Pretoria high court’s decision to dismiss an application by eight Somali asylum seekers to review their rejected applications as shocking.

The head of LHR’s strategic litigation programme, Wayne Ncube, said the organisation intended to appeal the decision. “We feel it does not reflect the facts in the papers or take into consideration judicial precedence from superior courts or the prevailing country information from Somalia,” he said.

Ncube said he couldn’t comment further, but that LHR intended to reflect on their criticism of the decision in greater depth in the appeal.

LHR acted on behalf of the eight asylum seekers, who fled Somalia and came to South Africa at various times from 2007, when the war in Somalia was at its zenith. Officials at the refugee reception offices (the first port of call for asylum seekers once they are granted entry to the country) declined all eight of their asylum applications.

They appealed, but the understaffed and under-resourced Refugee Appeals Board (RAB) again denied them.

In their appeal to the high court, the applicants highlighted a number of errors in making their case, including that the RAB had a “restrictive interpretation” of the term “persecution”. But Judge Dunstan Mlambo, the judge president of the Gauteng division of the high court of South Africa, dismissed the appeal suit.

-Mail, The Guardian