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Johannesburg - The media’s chances of sitting in on Radovan Krejcir’s refugee status appeal are at the discretion of the Refugee Appeal Board.
The Czech businessman first applied for asylum in South Africa in 2007 but was refused in 2008.
He appealed against the decision.
Three media houses, including Independent Newspapers, have been seeking permission to observe that process.
It’s usually a no-go, and the board refused media access.
According to the Refugees Act, the “confidentiality of asylum applications and the information contained therein must be ensured at all times”.
The High Court took the same stance.
It said that the confidentiallity clause in the Refugees Act was a justified limitation on the freedom of the press because confidentiality is integral in the asylum-seeking process.
But yesterday, the Constitutional Court turned that on its head.
It ruled that “the limitation on the right to freedom of expression is unreasonable, unjustifiable and accordingly invalid”.
Not that this guarantees the press access to Krejcir’s asylum appeal.
The Court ruled that the board has the power “on conditions it deems fit” to allow the media and the public into a hearing.
“This discretion must be exercised with due regard to relevant factors, such as whether the asylum seeker consents to the third party’s access or whether it is in the public interest to allow such attendance,” said a court statement.
It’s also given Parliament two years to fix the legal loophole.
TOP 10 ASYLUM SEEKERS IN SA
20 236 Zimbabwe
10 312 Ethiopia
9 533 Nigeria
6 889 DRC
4 885 Pakistan
3 886 Malawi
3 630 India
3 626 Bangladesh
3 532 Mozambique
2 909 Ghana