British immigration authorities have resumed deporting failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers after a four-year moratorium.
Deportations to Zimbabwe had been halted following the eruption of politically motivated violence, especially during the 2008 controversial elections, but British courts said forced removals could resume after the formation of the inclusive government in 2009.
Human rights groups criticized the latest development, warning of a possible rise in violence ahead of next year’s elections.
Further, the UK-based protest group, the ZimVigil, alleged in a statement that “deportees are being drugged or threatened with sedation to ensure they do not kick up a fuss when put on a plane home.”
VOA was unable to reach the UK Border Agency (UKBA) but immigration lawyer Brighton Mutebuka told reporter Violet Gonda that deportees are being taken in after reporting to various centers as required by the agency.
Mutebuka said those being removed are failed asylum seekers who have had their cases dismissed on the basis of lack of credibility and people who have served their sentences after committing crimes in the UK.
The lawyer said while there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people being deported in recent months, the actual figures are not yet known because “the Home Office does this in a very secretive manner because they don’t want to cause alarm.”
Commenting on allegations of rights abuses by UKBA, Mutebuke said: “I haven’t received specific evidence. However, what I know and what I have seen are damning reports from UKBA inspectors who have gone to detention centers and who have recorded appalling treatment to detainees.
“Three weeks ago there was an incident in which a Ghanaian national actually died whilst in detention and the cause of death was believed to be ill-treatment from the UKBA.”