Parliament approves 1951 refugee convention
The MPs during the sitting on Monday 14th May 2018 (Photo by Martha David)
By Morris Dogga and Martha David
The Transitional National legislative Assembly (TNLA) on Monday ratified the 1951 convention relating to the status of refugees.
This came after the convention was presented to the August house by Member of Parliament Daniel Dhieu the chairperson of the committee for legislation and Justice.
The convention was first tabled before parliament in September 2015 by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs but had not been ratified.
The 1951 convention emphasized definition of refugee as someone who was unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.
The Convention further stipulates that, subject to specific exceptions, refugees should not be penalized for their illegal entry or stay.
This recognized seeking of asylum could require refugees to breach immigration rules. Prohibited penalties might include being charged with immigration or criminal offences relating to the seeking of asylum, or being arbitrarily detained purely on the basis of seeking asylum.
The Convention also lays down basic minimum standards for the treatment of refugees, without prejudice to States granting more favorable treatment. Such rights include access to the courts, primary education, work, and the provision for documentation, including a refugee travel document in passport form.
Member of Parliament Rose Adau hailed the lawmakers for ratifying the convention saying it would enable refuges in the Country to also get the necessary basic needs.
According to Adau there were about 280 000 refugees in South Sudanese Soil that needed special consideration.
Gabriel Guot Guot, a Member of Parliament representing Lol state stressed that the convention had to be incorporated into the domestic laws.
“Now that we have endorsed this convention, we have to make sure that the convention must be domesticated in our law,” he said.
M.P Festo Lemi called on the country leaders to end the War now that it had enacted the refugees’ convention to avoid pouring out more refugees into the neighboring countries.
“It is sending a message that we end the war so that there are no violations of human rights,” he said.
Raga Gabriel Babarie the executive director for Commission for Refugees Affairs (CRA) said the ratification now grants South Sudan as one of the Member State of the ExComm meeting.
“For us this has become win one. We are not going to ExComm meting as observer. We are going to go as a full member to represent South Sudan because we have so many refugees in South Sudan here,” Raga stated.
With this ratification we are happy we thank the Transitional National Legislative Assembly for this step taken,” she added.
The government is now expected to report to the agencies dealing with refugees on matters relating to refugees in the country.