TAC CLAIMS VICTORY IN REFUGEE COURT CHALLENGE

ANC Daily News Briefing/Sapa, 15 August 2008

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The Treatment Action Campaign has dropped a plan to take the Western Cape government to court following the province's production of a set of guidelines for dealing with victims of emergencies. TAC had already filed papers in the Cape High Court demanding that the province, the city of Cape Town and national government adopt a set of minimum humanitarian assistance standards in dealing with xenophobia refugees. The proposed standards would cover accommodation, nutrition, health care, hygiene, security and access to transport. The matter was due to be argued on September 1. However, TAC attorney Fatima Hassan said on Friday that the provincial cabinet had this week approved a "guidelines for emergencies" document, setting out minimum standards. This was a direct result of TAC's threatened litigation, which came after the organisation had had to step in with financial and other resources to refugees, she said. The guidelines, based on international humanitarian law documents, would be applicable to all emergencies and disasters in the province from now on. "The guidelines mostly comply with what we have demanded," Hassan said. "It's now up to [national] government, the city and the province to make sure that they are implemented. "We will monitor the implementation of these guidelines and we will go back to court if necessary if they are not implemented. "This is the first time that there is actually an acknowledgment and an admission that the delivery of basic services needs to be provided within a particular framework. "Like I said, the document is not perfect, the guidelines are not perfect. There's a lot of work that still has to be done. But it's a step forward."