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Britain Preparing to Deport More Zimbabweans

FILE: Police patrol the airport upon the arrival of Zimbabwean nationals deported from the United Kingdom, at Robert Mugabe International airport in Harare, Thursday, July 22, 2021. (AP)
FILE: Police patrol the airport upon the arrival of Zimbabwean nationals deported from the United Kingdom, at Robert Mugabe International airport in Harare, Thursday, July 22, 2021. (AP)

Britain, which deported 14 Zimbabweans a month ago, is on Wednesday expected to send back to the southern African nation at least 20 more people with criminal records.

Pardon Tapfumanei, an attorney representing some of the Zimbabweans targeted people, said the deportations are part of an agreement made by the President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government and the United Kingdom for the forced return of people who committed crimes in Britain.

Tapfumanei said, “Those caught will be sent back home and everything depends on the status of their cases. Most of these people’s cases have been exhausted. They would have been rejected by the courts and gone through the court system two three or five years ago.

“They are filing new evidence in their cases with the intention of showing some change in circumstances of their cases. Each case will turn on its facts. Those that have been exhausted are submitting fresh evidence. You can make a new injunction. The British Home Office is looking into their submissions quickly. The decision usually it’s refusal.”

Tapfumanei has already submitted fresh evidence in cases involving some of the people that were also targeted for deportation last month.

“One of the clients did not go last time. We submitted new evidence and that saved him. The other one tested positive for COVID-19. Indications are that they are not deporting him. For this particular client, I have enlisted the services of the local MP (Member of Parliament) to ask the Home Office to defer his removal. He (client) once dealt with drugs and had to commit offenses to pay for the drugs … Some of the cases have to be relooked at by the courts. We are doing injunction and judiciary review … Approaching the high court to stop the Home Office from removing them.”

The Home Office did not respond to inquiries over the latest deportations with indications that the United Kingdom is determined to deport a large number of Zimbabweans with criminal records.

In a tweet recently, the Home Office said there is no room for criminals in Britain.

The Home Office said the deportees were sentenced to a combined total of over 75 years in prison for various crimes, including rape and murder.

The British government, which has deported 7,985 foreign criminals from the United Kingdom since January 2019, says it wants to keep its communities safe from criminals. Indications are that the country is planning to deport at least 150 Zimbabweans per month, especially those that have committed serious offences and failed asylum seekers.

According to the Associated Press, some of the deportees had stayed in Britain for decades and forced to leave families behind to face an uncertain future back home.

Rights groups and politicians in Britain have mounted pressure to stop the deportations, arguing that the deportees are at risk of persecution in Zimbabwe.

The United Kingdom says it has a right to deport foreigners who commit serious crimes after they serve out their sentences.

Zimbabwean authorities have dismissed fears that the returnees would be persecuted.

A Zimbabweans Foreign Affairs official told the state-controlled Herald newspaper on Monday that the returnees are part of the first batch of locals who were supposed to be sent home last month.

Constance Chemwayi is quoted by the newspaper as saying that “the individuals concerned have been in quarantine at holding centers waiting for removal.”

Although there are no exact figures, scores of thousands left Zimbabwe for the UK, the former colonial power, to escape a biting political and economic crisis at the turn of the century.

Many Zimbabweans whose bids for asylum were rejected by Britain also face deportation.

The Associated Press also contributed to this article