State agrees Krejcir hearing should be closed

The state's legal representative sided with Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir’s lawyer at the North Gauteng High Court on Friday in requesting that the media not be given access to Krejcir’s upcoming appeal on his refugee status.

In his representation of Krejcir, advocate Gilbert Marcus SC told judge Hans Fabricius that Krecjir had not forfeited his privacy rights despite being defamed in the press.

Giving the media access to the hearings would "destroy the present system of asylum law", whose legislation states that all hearings be held behind closed doors, said Marcus.

Advocate Mike Bofilatos, on behalf of the state, was in agreement and even went as far as telling the court he fully supported Marcus's argument.

Bofilatos said the rules governing refugee hearings were very clear and selective confidentiality should not be entertained regardless of who the applicant was.

Problematic
He added that if such hearings were accessible to outside parties, asylum seekers would be discouraged and this would result in an increase in unregistered immigrants.

Arguing on behalf of the media, Alfred Cockrell said Bofilatos and Marcus’s arguments were mislaid because South Africa was one of the leading refugee destinations in the world.

He stressed that Krejcir was a public figure and the media had a right to access his hearings so that the public could be informed.

The Refugee Appeal Board has stood firm in its decision to bar the media from Krejcir’s upcoming appeal in his refugee status.

The Mail & Guardian, Independent Newspaper and Media24 have joined forces and gone to court in an attempt to overrule the board's decision.

Fabricius will now consider all the legal submissions made during the two-day hearing before delivering his judgment on December 6.

* this article was first published by the Mail & Guardian Online on November 16 2012.

* Got a tip-off for us about this story? Email amabhungane@mg.co.za

The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit initiative to develop investigative journalism in the public interest, produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for all our stories, activities and sources of funding.