Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) continues to fight for the rights of the stateless population in South Africa, and the broader Southern African region, using a multi-prong approach of litigation, advocacy, and community outreach in 2022. Over the reporting period, LHR continued to provide direct legal assistance to stateless persons or persons at risk of statelessness, with a particular focus - as always - on stateless migrants and children with complex birth registration issues or nationality claims.
In September 2021, LHR obtained a Constitional Court judgement in the matter of Naki v Minister of Home Affairs (Naki) affirming the right of signle fathers to register the births of their children. Despite this, LHR contiunues to receive reports from fathers who have been denied services at the Department of Home Affairs or who have been compelled to provide proof of paternity in the form of DNA registration. LHR representing the Centre for Child Law will pursue further litigation to challenge the Departmetn's failure to implement the Constitutional Court judgement and to scrape its mandatory DNA testing policy. LHR continues to assist with DNA tests whilst awaiting conpliance with the judgment. To date we have assisted with 86 DNA tests. in the reporting period we have assisted with 9 tests and we have 3 scheduled for June 2022 and a further 4 booked for July.
LHR also continued its capacity building hosting three trainings for South African Human Rights Commission members, social workers and paralegals on statelessness. We also submitted a thematic report on statelessness to the Office of the Human Rights Commission. The report highlights, amongst other things, the barriers to access to documentation and nationality for migrant children. It further includes concrete recommendations on law and policy reform that would prevent childhood statelessness and enhance the protection of stateless children.This forms part of LHR's campaign to continue increasing public awareness of this issue, and ensure different stakeholders are empowered to address the causes of statelessness.
Finally, LHR in partnership with Camp Sizanani conducted a birth registration information drive/outreach at a school in Johannesburg with over 100 undocumented learners. The purpose of the outreach was to share information on importance of birth registration and the process of obtaining birth certificates for children born in South Africa.
LHR will continue this struggle through advocacy, the courts, and outreach to change this reality for so many.