Media Advisory: Judicial Review of decision to grant refugee status to suspected war criminal Appeal Hearing before the Supreme Court of Appeal

Salc : Staff Writer

Johannesburg- On Wednesday 24 May 2017, the Supreme Court of Appeal will hear an appeal lodged by the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa in the case of the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants (CoRMSA) and others v President of The Republic of South Africa & Others matter. The case was bought before the High Court by the CORMSA and SALC to challenge the granting of refugee status to Kayumba Nyamwasa, a former Rwandese general and suspected war criminal. The case seeks to protect the integrity of the asylum process which is available to protect persons who are fleeing persecution and which excludes suspected war criminals from accessing this protection. The High Court ruled in that General Nyamwasa was correctly granted refugee status. They also stated that from the information available that there was insufficient cause that there was reason to believe that he was involved in the alleged crimes.

Where: Supreme Court of Appeal, Bloemfontein
When: Wednesday 24 May 2017 at 9h30

Background:

On 26 September 2014, the South Gauteng High Court delivered a judgment that the decision of South African authorities to grant refugee status to General Kayumba Nyamwasa was legal. In the Court’s determination, Nyamwasa fell within the vulnerable group categories protected under the country’s refugee law and that the appellants had not shown sufficient cause that Gen. Nyamwasa was involved in the commission of the alleged crimes. The judgment was delivered nearly two years after the date of hearing.
Gen. Nyamwasa, who is living in South Africa, applied for asylum in 2010 after surviving an assassination attempt in Johannesburg. Following the granting of refugee status by the Department of Home Affairs, CORMSA and others commenced judicial review proceedings at the South Gauteng High Court. The proceedings were commenced after South African competent authorities failed to respond to submissions presented by CORMSA and SALC detailing legal implications for granting Gen. Nyamwasa refugee status. The fundamental argument that was advanced was that Gen. Nyamwasa was a subject of international indictments from three separate countries’, France, Spain and Rwanda on allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, among others. Granting refugee status to persons suspected of committing these crimes runs contrary to refugee law. CoRMSA and SALC, therefore, requested that the South African authorities withdraw the decision to grant Gen. Nyamwasa refugee status. The High Court however found in favour of Nyamwasa and dismissed the application. CoRMSA then sought leave to appeal before the High Court and was denied. They then successfully petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal for leave to appeal. The Supreme Court of Appeal will now hear the appeal on 24 May, 2017 in Bloemfontein.

For more information:
Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Executive Director, SALC; kaajalr@salc.org.za;
Roshan Dadoo, Director, CORMSA; roshan@cormsa.org.za;