The Australian government is not as welcoming as South Africans farmers expected them to be. When applying for a refugee or humanitarian visa for the country of Australia, one must meet the requirement of being “subject to persecution in your home country” – and be able to prove it. This, after Australian Minister of Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, offered to prioritise white farmers from South Africa, for their safety.
The Australian Department of Home Affairs told 9News, an American news network, that more than 200 South Africans have applied for humanitarian visas to move to the country.
Malisa Golightly, Deputy Secretary of Australian Home Affairs, also revealed what criteria will be considered when looking at an application for asylum. “The type of criteria they of course have to meet – or the key one – is evidence of persecution, so that’s exactly what we will be looking at,” she said.
Australia is signed to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (UNHCR), as well as several other human rights treaties. These set the definition of what a refugee is, and also creates a legal obligation not to return a person to a country where he or she will face serious harm or persecution.
As those who face persecution rarely have evidence documenting their claim, the Immigration Department will consider the applicant’s personal account, along with independent information from their country of origin.
Golightly added that Dutton, had not asked her to prioritise South African applicants. As far as the department is concerned, there is no special attention being given to South Africans.
“Basically, like anybody, South Africans can apply for any visa they wish and they’ll be assessed against the criterion set out in the law,” Golightly said.”In terms of processing, the normal arrangements apply where we assess the claims against whichever is the relevant criteria.”
In March, Dutton announced that his Department was considering fast-tracking the visa applications of white South African farmers. He also announced that his department was examining a wide range of methods to speed tip the fast tracking process even more.
At the time, a number of Australian media outlets had raised concerns about the safety of white farmers in South Africa with the proposal of land expropriation without compensation, reporting that white farmers in the country are being murdered at a rate of more than one per week.
At the time, Dutton said that he thought South Africans deserve special attention. “We want people who want to come here, abide by our laws, integrate into our society, work hard, not lead a life on welfare. And I think these people deserve special attention and we’re certainly applying that special attention now.”
But the tune seems to have changed now…