Exclusion from refugee status

If implemented, the Refugees Amendment Act would expand the reasons for which an asylum seeker could be excluded from refugee status. This would include the committing of a Schedule 2 crime, entering illegally into South Africa, or an offence related to fraudulent documentation. It would also include those who are fugitives from justice in countries ‘where the rule of law is upheld by a recognized judiciary’, and those who do not apply for asylum within five days of entering South Africa. These proposed changes do not adhere to international refugee law, which clearly outlines that refugees should not be penalized for irregular entry into South Africa. UNHCR Guidelines further clarify that ‘the proportionality of the gravity of the offence in question should be weighed against the consequences of exclusion for the individual concerned’.