Current migration legislation is weak: Motsoaledi

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Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says the need to overhaul legislation on citizenship, immigration and refugees is urgent.

He says the current migration legislation is weak and unworkable and criminal syndicates are exploiting it.

The government has published a White paper on the three pieces of legislation and members of the public are invited to comment until January 19 next year.

They propose that government review and/or withdraw from international agreements to which South Africa acceded in 1996, despite many countries’ reservations.

In a virtual media interview, Motsoaledi said that at the time, government did not have a clear migration policy.

Motsoaledi gave some details of the proposed policy: “Section 4.3 of the Citizenship Act requires that it be reviewed together with other sections. Including those related to citizenship by naturalisation. The Citizenship Act and the Birth Act must be repealed in their entirety and included in a single legislation dealing with citizenship, immigration, and refugee protection. This will remove contradictions and loopholes, as is now the case with the three-piece legislation.”

He adds: “We are saying that as a country, we need to press the reset button. It is us, not the United Nations, who, in 1996, when we interacted with the United Nations, committed these errors. And we are here today to accede to them and say we have started the process, or we are calling forth a process of correcting them, and we are putting this to the public out there.”

“Refugee protection and immigration legislation must provide for reservations and exceptions contained in all these conventions.”

VIDEO | Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi briefs the media on Immigration and Refugee Protection: