CoRMSA engages in advocacy and lobbying activities at national and regional levels. This involves engaging government, international organisations and other stakeholder to enact new or amend existing legislation and policies that promote and protect the rights of non-South Africans in the country. Our advocacy work includes Parliamentary engagement where we engage various parliamentary and legislative bodies making submissions and presentations on issues affecting the human rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.
Regional Advocacy Highlights
- Launch of the South African APRM Monitoring Project report: Progress in Implementing the APRM – Views from Civil Society, Midrand, 28 June
CoRMSA contributed to the above-mentioned report under the section on xenophobia, tracking the progress of what the government said it will do through its follow-up reporting on its African Peer Review Country Report which was presented to the AU Summit in 2007. Noting that little progress had been made and that the initiatives undertaken by government were ill coordinated and often short lived, the report editors gave a rating of ‘red’ to government progress on this issue. Since the launch of the report, this has been picked up in the media, and a number of radio interviews and articles in the print media have used the CoRMSA input as a benchmark when addressing government on the question of combating xenophobia.
- International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM) 13th Conference: Governing Migration, Kampala, Uganda, 3-6 July
CoRMSA presented a paper in one of the panels at the 13th IASFM Conference under the theme of ‘Governing Migration’. We attempted to look at the question of regional economic integration versus the reality of migration in our region. Through the presentations and discussions we started looking at ways we can work together and share information – particularly on the connections and migration routes leading from the Horn to Southern Africa in the context of proposed sub-regional integration between SADC, EAC and COMESA.
Another area of focus in our work, the promotion of signature, ratification and domestication of the AU Convention on IDPs, was also extremely well covered in panel and plenary discussions and enabled us to meet and discuss strategies with the key role players from the AU that are working on this issue. We will be taking the outcomes of all our interactions forward in our planned work activities. As an example, we are hoping to invite some of the role players we met in Uganda to South Africa during the COP17 climate negotiations in December as we use that as a platform to raise the profile of the Kampala Convention. We are also sharing the information gathered to our member organisations and wider networks through our newsletter and blog.
- International Detention Coalition (IDC), Africa Regional Workshop, Johannesburg, 12 – 14 July
This was the first workshop organised by the IDC for Southern and Eastern Africa and it enabled a wide range of stakeholders to come together to map a picture of immigration detention in the region. It allowed for learning from one another and aided relationship building. Legal framework for detention, monitoring places of detention, working with vulnerable people in detention, self-care and advocacy techniques were some of the issues discussed in considerable detail. We were able to share challenges as well as best practice whilst the IDC also provided a lot of useful information around relevant alternatives to detention. This will greatly assist us in looking forward to what we would like to see feature in a harmonised regional immigration policy. More information on the IDC can be found at www.idcoalition.org
- SADC-CNGO, Johannesburg, 8-9 August
The SADC Council of NGOs held its pre-Summit meeting in Johannesburg even though the SADC Summit was held in Luanda, Angola, due to difficulties in obtaining visas to Angola by the SADC NGO Secretariat and other participants. This was the only additional item on freedom of movement reflected in the Declaration as the Civil Society Forum did not have any migration issues on the agenda. However, input into the breakaway session on human security issues was done and it was proposed that the wording from the previous year’s declaration regarding migration issues should remain since there had not been any progress and there was need to keep the matter on the table.
The SADC Summit also gave no consideration to issues of migration, immigration, refugees or the Protocol on the Facilitation of Movement of People in spite of the amount of references to greater and enhanced regional integration; the SADC Free Trade Zone; and the launch of negotiations for the Tripartite Free Trade Area between SADC-COMESA-ECA. As you can’t move money, goods and services and ignore the implications for the movement of people (migrants, refugees and asylum seekers) collaboration through the SADC Council of NGOs is underway- they are now obliged to follow-up on matters in their Declaration – and the regional network is due to start campaigning to put people at the centre of regional integration. Members and interested parties shall be updated on a regular basis and their comments and ideas shall be accommodated to guarantee the presentation of a united front while also ensuring that issues related to the sector are kept on the regional and continental agenda.
- Roundtable to develop a continental disability strategy hosted by the Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities (SADPD), Johannesburg 31 August-1 September
CoRMSA has been raising the issue of refugees with disabilities at the African Commission sessions as it was an area that member organisations as well as disability organisations on the continent have been noting with concern. It was a great honour for CoRMSA to have been invited to participate in the Roundtable which sought to develop a new strategic plan which will be adopted as an AU document and presented to the Heads of State and Government. This 10 year strategy aims to close gaps in the UN Convention that relate specifically to disability in our continent as well as to promote the Convention to African countries that have not yet signed and ratified. The two-day meeting produced a first draft for an African strategy and it is hoped that CoRMSA’s input and the recommendations which were developed in the working group on Human Security will be taken forward into the final document.