10 Penhurst Ave
Bedfordview 2007, South Africa
P.O. Box 28639
Kensington 2101, South Africa
Phone: +27 11 454 3309
Fax: +27 11 454 1318
Chris Watters’s Story
Chris Watters has been in practice for over a quarter of a century with an almost unparalleled background in South Africa in administrative law and human rights having also worked as a human rights lawyer through much of the 1980s in what was then the most violent period of apartheid South Africa. His ‘activism’ during the ’70s and ’80s resulted in his being detained without trial twice by the apartheid authorities, once for two weeks and an earlier period of almost ten months, which gives him a unique insight into the problems of refugees, persecution and the denial of rights to people without voices or votes.
Chris Watters has a B.A. in political science (1978) and a Bachelor of Laws degree (1982) – both from Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.
He was admitted as an attorney of the then Supreme Court of South Africa in 1985.
In 1995 he co-edited a book, published by Butterworths, with the late Judge E. M. Patel titled Human Rights: Basic Instruments and Documents.
Mr. Watters sits on the Immigration & Refugee Law Committees of both the Law Society of the Northern Provinces (being the statutory oversight body for attorneys in the region) and of the Law Society of South Africa (which is the national coordinating body for the legal profession) since 1999 – and continues to do so as the vice-chairperson of both committees. He drafted the Law Societies’ submissions on the Immigration Act 2002, and the last three amendments to the Act and presented same to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs as well as on the proposed amendments to the SA Citizenship Act which came before Parliament in January 2011. He also drafted the Law Society’s submissions to the Refugee Appeal Board on the Rules of that body.
In 2003 he was appointed by Cabinet to sit on the Immigration Advisory Board of the Minister of Home Affairs in the capacity as a specialist in the field. He resigned the appointment in 2005. In 2004 he was also appointed by the Minister of Home Affairs to be the external moderator in the first qualifying exams for non-lawyer immigration practitioners run by the University of South Africa.
In September 2008 he was appointed by the Minister of Justice to assist the South African Law Reform Commission, which is chaired by Justice Mokgoro of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, to review all Home Affairs legislation for constitutionality. Within that structure he was the rapporteur on immigration legislation.
He has given evidence by way of affidavit in South Africa and overseas on immigration law and has been accepted there as an expert in the field.
In 2008 he was appointed by SASSETA (an organ of state mandated to oversee skills development in, inter alia, the legal field) to design a course on immigration law. The project is currently on hold for fiscal reasons.
Mr. Watters is an alternate Councillor of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces. He was also a founder member, in 1987, of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers in South Africa and is a past president of its Johannesburg branch.
Mr. Watters regularly lectures and/or deliver papers and/or does training for the Law Societies and other bodies on immigration and refugee law. He also regularly contributes articles on immigration and refugee law to both the national print media and to professional publications and do the occasional television appearance on the subject.
Mr. Watters remains active in local community activities being Vice Chairperson of the Executive Board of the East Rand Youth Orchestra.