Interpretation Consistent with International Law? The Detention of Asylum Seekers in South Africa

Jaya Ramji


On paper, South African law concerning detention of asylum seekers appears consistent with international standards. However, the text of the Act is vague and overly broad, permitting interpretations inconsistent with international human rights standards. Further, in practice, officials often fail to uphold even the lowest standards of the Act, in violation of South African law. In order to protect the rights of asylum seekers, the South African government should institute formal guidelines and training programs, as well as a system of strong supervision and accountability, to ensure that the Act and Regulations are interpreted in a manner consistent with international law. Such a step will enable South Africa to live up to its noble post-apartheid human rights ideals.

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