Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs
On application, the Standing Committee may certify that a refugee, whose claim for refugee has been accepted and who has been a refugee for five continuous years in South Africa, will remain a refugee indefinitely. Certification by the Standing Committee must be obtained prior to submitting an application for permanent residence in South Africa to the Department of Home Affairs based on Section 27(d) of the Immigration Act.
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Automatic Review of Certain Decisions Rejecting a Claim for Refugee
Regulation 25(1) provides for the automatic review by the Standing Committee of decisions rejecting a claim for refugee as being manifestly unfounded, fraudulent or abusive. This review function is meant “to ensure that deserving applicants are not wrongfully turned away [Bula v Minister of Home Affairs]. The asylum-seeker may hand over written representations to the refugee center not later than 14 working days after receiving the rejection notice. If the Standing Committee sets aside the decision, it will send it back to the RSDO with direction for further action.
Before reaching a decision, the Standing Committee may (i) invite the UNHCR representative to make oral or written representations, (ii) request the attendance of any person who is in a position to provide it with information relevant to the matter being dealt with, (iii) on its own accord make such further enquiry and investigation into the matter being dealt with as it may deem appropriate and (iv) request the applicant to appear before it and to provide such other information as it may deem necessary.
In N v SCRA, the Court ruled that the RSDO and the Standing Committee have “a duty to gather evidence where necessary, and to conduct the interview in an inquisitorial manner. In [not doing so], they failed to take into account relevant considerations in determining the applicant’s claim”.
Withdrawal of Refugee Status
The Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs may withdraw refugee status from someone “who has been recognized as a refugee erroneously on an application which contains any materially incorrect or false information, or was so recognized due to fraud, forgery, a false or misleading representation of a material or substantial nature in relation to the application or if such person ceases to qualify for refugee status” [Act, s 36].