Change to the Refugees Act moves South Africa much closer to Donald Trump’s America

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02/04/2020

Since its inception, the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa has protected South Africa from its government. A document heralded internationally as a model of democratic rights, the Constitution guarantees all people on South African soil the right to dignity, the right to food, and most important for the purposes of this article, the right to access the courts. But in one fell swoop, the government has removed that right from asylum seekers and refugees. With the amendments to the Refugees Act, that protection is under threat. If this only impacts non-South Africans, why should citizens and permanent residents be concerned? Every single person on South African soil should care, regardless of their status in this country, because once a government starts violating the Constitution, it is a slippery slope and there is no way to know who will be next. Today, refugees and asylum seekers are losing their rights. Tomorrow, it could be women, the elderly, or members of the LGBT community. Allowing even a single individual person to lose their constitutional rights sets a precedent that could lead to the rest of South Africa losing them too.

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