Thousands of failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the United Kingdom face forced removals after the British Immigration and Asylum Chamber ruled that Zimbabwe is now safe for return.
Justice Blake, President of the Upper Tribunal of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber, ruled there was no evidence of risk for those returning, lifting a five-year suspension of the removal of failed seekers in the country.
Officials say the courts will now consider each asylum case on individual merit, but are urging all illegal Zimbabweans to leave voluntarily and accept a re-integration assistance package.
Director Rose Benton of the Zimbabwe Vigil, who works with Zimbabwean asylum seekers, however, told VOA reporter Tatenda Gumbo, with the recent crackdown in Zimbabwe, failed asylum seekers - who often are also activists - are at high risk if forced to return.
Part of the findings by Britain’s Immigration and Asylum Chamber which visited Zimbabwe last year and influenced the decision to lift the deportation moratorium reads: “There is significantly less politically-motivated violence in Zimbabwe, compared with the situation considered by the asylum and immigration tribunal.”
The IAC says there is no evidence failed asylum seekers without significant MDC profiles would face problems if deported to Zimbabwe.
Sakhile Mthombeni, a member of the MDC formation of Prime Minister Tsvangirai in the UK says Britain’s judgment is misplaced.
Britain’s Immigration and Asylum Chamber says it may be dangerous to send failed asylum seekers to some parts of the country other than Matabeleland and Bulawayo, as they may face persecution.
It says people from Mashonaland may face discrimination if deported to Bulawayo. Zenzo Ncube, ZAPU official in the United Kingdom says Britain is ill-informed about the situation in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, observers say frosty relations between Harare and Britain may be thawing since the conservatives took over last year.
But political analyst Julius Mutyambizi-Dewa told VOA Studio 7 while President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party may welcome the change in relations between the two nations, Britian cannot deny the continued human rights violations occurring in Zimbabwe, which will weigh heavily in an appeal.