Court halts deportation of undocumented migrants

court gavel

The South Gauteng High Court has granted an urgent application by Lawyers for Human Rights to halt the deportation of undocumented migrants arrested in raids across the country so that lawyers could consult with their clients.

The court also granted the provision of a full detainee list with the locations of the detainees.

The military was deployed to xenophobic hotspots a month ago, following four weeks of violence against foreign nationals in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. The flare-up resulted in the deaths of seven people.

Dubbed Operation Fiela, the joint raids by the police and soldiers have resulted in the arrests of some 1000 people, including at least 800 undocumented migrants throughout the country.

But, organisations including Right2Know and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) claim the raids send contradictory messages to the foreign nationals who remain vulnerable after the attacks.

“Over the last fortnight we have witnessed human rights violations and arbitrary detentions of primarily foreign nationals under the controversial Operation Fiela-Reclaim,” said MSF in a statement.

“People in the camps in Durban have expressed scepticism about reintegrating into back into communities where 6 weeks ago they were systematically targeted because they are foreigners – regardless of being migrants or refugees. There have also been documented violent incidents involving police in the camps.”

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