‘Penalised for Persecution’: The Plight of Asylum Seekers in Zimbabwe

ABSTRACT

Asylum seekers and refugees are among the world’s most vulnerable people. They frequently attract opposing views and are seen as a burden to society, which is an unfortunate reality. Most contemporary state practices fall short of the required standards, despite the existence of structures and a comprehensive international and regional legal framework to protect these vulnerable individuals. Zimbabwe has ratified several international and regional human rights treaties, but its domestic legislative framework undermines its commitments to uphold the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees. Against this backdrop, this dissertation focuses on the growing convergence of immigration, refugee, and criminal law. The Immigration Act [Chapter 4:03] and the Refugee Act [Chapter 4:02] are the two main pieces of legislation that create this quagmire while also regulating entry and exit from Zimbabwe. Although these two pieces of legislation apply to various categories of migrants, it is contended that authorities favour the enforcement of immigration laws over asylum and refugee laws on asylum seekers particularly those found in Zimbabwe without prior authorisation. This violates Article 31(1) of the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, (1951 Geneva Convention) which places asylum seekers between a rock and a hard place. Regardless of how they entered the country, Zimbabwe has an international obligation to accept and not expel any asylum seekers who are present on its territory. However, the incorrect application of the Immigration Act on asylum seekers undermines Zimbabwe’s adherence to its commitments made under the 1951 Geneva Convention thus defeating its object and purpose. By denying asylum seekers of their most fundamental human rights and branding them as criminals in violation of the Immigration Act, this practice militates against asylum seekers’ best interests. This dissertation seeks to ascertain the extent to which the penalisation of asylum seekers a violation of Zimbabwe’s commitments under the 1951 Geneva Convention, 1967 Protocol and the 1969 OAU Convention Governing Specific Aspects of the Refugee Problems in Africa. To show a common thread of practice and perhaps consider some of the best practices coming from other jurisdictions, this dissertation also discusses South Africa’s approach as far as the penalisation of asylum seekers is concerned. The penalisation of asylum seekers is an extremely harsh measure that should only be used as a last resort. Such a practice constitutes a violation of Article 31 of the 1951 Geneva Convention and its 1967 Protocol as well as the 1969 OAU Convention. Recommendations are thereby preferred on how best to minimise cases of penalisation of asylum seekers by resorting to alternatives to detention and guaranteeing the effective protection of asylum seekers who find themselves illegally in Zimbabwe.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

TITLE PAGE.. ii

DECLARATION.. ii

DISSERTATION SUBMISSION APPROVAL FORM... iii

ABSTRACT.. iv

PREFACE.. v

LIST OF ACRONYMS. xi

CHAPTER ONE.. 1

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND OF STUDY.. 1

1.1.     Introduction. 1

1.2.     Background of the study and Literature overview.. 4

1.3.     Problem Statement9

1.4.     Research Questions. 10

1.5.     Research Methodology. 11

1.6.     Significance of study. 12

1.7.     Limitations of study. 12

1.8.     Chapter Synopses. 13

CHAPTER TWO.. 15

THE HISTORICAL EVOLUTION AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE RIGHT TO ASYLUM AND THE EMERGENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL LEGAL FRAMEWORK ON REFUGEE PROTECTION.. 15

2.1      Introduction. 15

2.2.     The nature of the right to seek and receive asylum.. 16

2.3.     Thescope and extent of asylum as a right16

2.4.     The historical development of the right to seek and receive asylum and international refugee protection in international law.. 18

2.5.     The International Legal Framework on Asylum Seekers and Refugees. 19

2.5.1.  International legal framework. 20

(a)       UDHR, 1948. 20

(b)      1951 Geneva Convention. 21

(c)       The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), 1966. 23

(d)      The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, 2016. 23

2.5.2.  Regional Protection. 24

2.5.2.1.      Africa. 25

(a)       1969 OAU Refugee Convention. 25

(b)      African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, (ACHPR) 1981. 27

(c)       The Declaration on Refugee Protection in Southern Africa, 1998. 27

2.5.2.2.      Latin America. 27

(a)       The American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR), 1969. 28

(b)      The Convention on Territorial Asylum.. 28

(c)       The 1984 Cartagena Declaration. 29

2.5.2.3.      Europe. 30

(a)       EU Human Rights Charter, 2000. 30

(b)      Directive 2013/33/EU of the European Parliament and the Council31

2.6.     International standards. 32

(a)       Non-penalisation for illegal entry under Article 31 of the1951 Geneva Convention. 32

(b)      Non-refoulement35

2.7.     State responsibility to protect asylum seekers under the 1951 Geneva Convention. 37

2.8.     Conclusion. 39

CHAPTER THREE.. 41

REFUGEE PROTECTION AND THE PENALISATION OF ASYLUM SEEKERS IN ZIMBABWE.. 41

3.1.     Introduction. 41

3.2.     Refugee Protection in Zimbabwe. 42

3.3.     Domestication of the 1951 Refugee Convention. 43

3.4.     The arrest and detention of asylum seekers in Zimbabwe. 44

3.5.     The current legislative framework in Zimbabwe. 45

3.5.1.  Constitution of Zimbabwe. 45

(a)       Guidelines in constitutional interpretation. 46

(b)      The rights of arrested and detained persons. 47

3.5.2.  The Refugees Act [Chapter 4:02]49

3.5.3.  Immigration Act [Chapter 4:03]50

3.6.     Article 31(1) of the 1951 Geneva Convention as both a means and an end to refugee protection in Zimbabwe. 52

3.7.     Conclusion. 54

CHAPTER FOUR.. 55

COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS ON THE PENALISATION OF ASYLUM SEEKERS IN SOUTH AFRICA55

4.1.     Introduction. 55

4.2.     Penalisation of asylum seekers and refugees in South Africa. 56

4.2.1.  The South African Constitution and the protection of refugees and asylum seekers. 57

4.2.2.  Refugees Act No. 130 of 1998 as amended. 57

4.2.3.  The Immigration Act No. 13 of 2002. 59

4.3.     Current state practice in South Africa and state obligations under Article 31(1) of the 1951 Geneva Convention. 60

4.4.     Similarities and differences between South Africa and Zimbabwe.61

4.4.1.  Similarities. 61

4.4.2.  Differences. 61

4.5.     The interplay between Immigration law and refugee law.. 63

(a)       Alex Ruta v Minister of Home Affairs. 63

(b)      Kiliko v Minister of Home Affairs and Others. 64

(c)       Ersumo v Minister of Home Affairs and Others. 64

(d)      Rahim v Minister of Home Affairs and Others. 65

(e)       Moustapha Dabone & Others v Minister of Home Affairs. 65

4.6.     UNHCR position of detention. 66

4.7.     Conclusion. 67

CHAPTER FIVE.. 69

FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS. 69

5.1.     Introduction. 69

5.2.     Summary of the findings of the study. 70

5.3.     Recommendations. 71

5.3.1.  Harmonising refugee law and immigration law.. 71

(a)       Amendment of the Immigration Act and inclusion of an exclusion clause for refugees and asylum seekers. 72

(b)      Amendment of the Refugees Act72

5.3.2.  Adoption of policies and regulations promote recourse to alternatives to detention. 72

(a)       Establishment of a National Referral Mechanism.. 73

(b)      Adoption of a National Action Plan to end detention of asylum seekers  74

(c)       Education, training, and awareness raising. 74

5.3.3.  Information dissemination on the asylum processes and procedures. 74

5.4.     The role of civil society. 75

5.5.     The role of academic institutions. 75

5.6.     The role of the Law Society of Zimbabwe. 76

5.7.     The role of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission. 76

5.8.     Recommendations at the international and regional level77

5.8.1.  Establishment of Refugee Convention Treaty Monitoring Body. 77

5.8.2.  The Common Southern African Development Community Asylum System.. 78

5.9.     Conclusion. 79

BIBLIOGRAPHY.. 80

 

 

Subscribe to access this work and thousands more
Overall Rating

0

5 Star
(0)
4 Star
(0)
3 Star
(0)
2 Star
(0)
1 Star
(0)
APA

Madziwa, E. (2024). ‘Penalised for Persecution’: The Plight of Asylum Seekers in Zimbabwe. Afribary. Retrieved from https://afribary.com/works/penalised-for-persecution-the-plight-of

MLA 8th

Madziwa, Edward "‘Penalised for Persecution’: The Plight of Asylum Seekers in Zimbabwe" Afribary. Afribary, 03 May. 2024, https://afribary.com/works/penalised-for-persecution-the-plight-of. Accessed 22 May. 2024.

MLA7

Madziwa, Edward . "‘Penalised for Persecution’: The Plight of Asylum Seekers in Zimbabwe". Afribary, Afribary, 03 May. 2024. Web. 22 May. 2024. < https://afribary.com/works/penalised-for-persecution-the-plight-of >.

Chicago

Madziwa, Edward . "‘Penalised for Persecution’: The Plight of Asylum Seekers in Zimbabwe" Afribary (2024). Accessed May 22, 2024. https://afribary.com/works/penalised-for-persecution-the-plight-of