Zimbabwean failed asylum seekers: Media raises awareness of folly of UK govt’s normalisation returns policy

Alice Muzira, a lawyer, said the UK government should urgently review its position while there were still human rights violations in Zimbabwe. “Removals should be suspended and the situation in relation to safety of returns to Zimbabwe closely monitored,” she said” – the Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/12/home-office-criticised-for-accelerating-removals-to-zimbabwe



On 12 February 2019, the Guardian reported not in one but two news articles on the plight of enforced returns to Zimbabwe by the UK Government.


Two hard-hitting articles by Frances Perraudin, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/feb/12/i-can-hardly-sleep-the-zimbabweans-facing-deportation-from-uk,  and  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/12/home-office-criticised-for-accelerating-removals-to-Zimbabwe,  have drawn awareness to increasing detentions of Zimbabwean failed asylum seekers with a view to removal.  All this despite the known current unstable conditions in Zimbabwe.


It was reported in February 2018 that the UK Goverment  intends to remove at least  2500 undocumented Zimbabweans living in the UK.  This is a signficant number.


It will  be remembered that between 2006 and 2013, the protracted Zimbabwean litigation that ensued arose following the UK Government’s efforts  to remove failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe.


It’s deja vu once again.


A word of warning  however reverberates as far back as 2009:


“Research undertaken in March 2009 by the Phoenix Fund for Zimbabwe and published in a report, Zimbabwe: Rebuilding a Nation, found: The relationship between the Zimbabwean community in the UK and the UK Border Agency is extremely tense and the high levels of suspicion and mistrust could undermine any initiatives that are linked to return. The report quotes the United Kingdom Border Agency’s January 2009 estimates for Zimbabweans in the UK, which suggest that there may be living here as many as 70,000 failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers or Zimbabweans without valid leave to remain. This figure suggests those potentially eligible for removal to Zimbabwe could present the UKBA with a huge task, with concomitant strain on pre-removal detention centres. If the so-called normalisation of returns policy to Zimbabwe is pursued, I suspect there will be prolonged legal battles in many cases” – https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200809/ldhansrd/text/91104-0011.htm


The Home Office have embarked on a normalisation of returns policy to Zimbabwe. The problem for them however is that  they have the timing wrong.  Consequently, they have a mammoth task before them.


Litigation will ensue.  Precedent will be set.  The UK courts will become extremly busy.


It may be time for someone to whisper in the Secretary of State’s ear: ” It’s going to be a long hard fight.  Let this one go”.

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