The Claude Leon Foundation



The University of Cape Town Refugee Rights Clinic (based in the Law Faculty) provides pro bono legal services to over 5000 refugees and asylum seekers every year since 1998. The clinic is registered with the Legal Practice Council of South Africa and in addition to providing pro bono legal services to a vulnerable group it is also a state-of-the-art training ground for prospective human rights lawyers. All LLB students are encouraged to do their compulsory 60 hours of community service with the Refugee Clinic and up to five candidate attorneys are hired every year to serve their articles at the clinic.

The legal services for asylum seekers and refugees include but are not limited to:
• Access to the asylum system.
• Navigating the complex refugee status determination procedure.
• Challenging the denialof socio-economic rights (right to work, access to health care and education etc).
• Interventions in the event of detentions and deportations.
• Applications for durable solutions in South Africa.
• A special focus on child-protection.
• A special focus on gender-based issues faced by refugee women.

The Clinic undertakes strategic litigation by identifying trends within the Clinic, including responsive community feedback, that benefits the most vulnerable members of society. Moreover, the strategic litigation component has generated several precedent-setting cases that have benefittedthe broader refugee community in South Africa.

Direct legal assistance to refugees is an important aspect of the work of the Refugee Rights Unit which includes Teaching, Research and Advocacy and Training - all of which are mutually reinforcing and leads to the provision of a sophisticated service to our vulnerable clients.

The quantitative and qualitative research conducted has enhanced protection for refugees in South Africa. The clinical work has also opened various avenues for research not contemplated before. See second edition of Refugee Law in South Africa edited and authored by Khan, F.

The Refugee Rights Unit offers a popular elective course for final year LLB students on Refugee and Immigration Law, and a more advanced course for students pursuing a master’s degree in human rights Law (LLM or MPhil). Supervision of master’s and PhD dissertations is overseen by the Unit’s director, Professor Fatima Khan.

Advocacy and training is also a vital aspect of the work and Refugee Unit undertakes a significant amount of targeted advocacy to empower the community by providing training to government officials, the judiciary, civil society partners and refugee communities. As well as making submissions to Parliament on legislative developments and amendments, the Refugee Unit also participates in the global discourseadvancing the agenda of refugee and asylum seeker protection.

Annual ASILE Conference Delegation 2023 details here.


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