It is not clear who will bear the cost of the Asylum Seeking Processing Centres. The White Paper acknowledges that ‘Additional … will be required’ for the Processing Centres, and indicated that Home Affairs is ‘developing a business case’ for the funding of the White Paper’s implementation.
We are concerned that, aside from the implications on human rights, Processing Centres will be an expensive venture. Similar asylum camps elsewhere are expensive to run ($224 dollars per day per person in the US). Aside from running costs, Home Affairs will have to set aside sizable budgets for litigation on unlawful detention.8 Home Affairs indicated that the UNHCR will be implicated in supporting costs for changes to the asylum system. However, the UNHCR specifically confirmed they would not be able to fund such programmes in South Africa. In our submissions, we advocated that governmental funds should rather be spent on running the current asylum system properly, reopening RROs and training staff. This, paired with less asylum applicants (due to SADCV visa regime) will result in a functioning asylum system.
Exclusion from refugee status
The basis upon which refugees can be excluded will be expanded to include applicants that have failed to apply in safe countries en route to South Africa, often termed ‘third safe countries’.
We find that this cannot be legally implemented in South Africa. The principle of ‘third safe countries’ is not considered legal practice under international law.9 Under the Refugees Act of South Africa, those who have been granted refugee status in other countries cannot be granted refugee status in South Africa. But those who have merely transited through countries on their way to South Africa cannot be denied status based on their route taken to reach South Africa. Returning people to countries where they might be at risk of harm, or deportation, has been protected against – both by the Refugees Act (Section 2) and by South African caselaw.