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State of play on sending back failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 02 November 2011 20:12

From Sandra Goppy, Country Specific Litigation Team, Appeals and Removals Directorate, Home Office dated 6th September 2011

All applications for asylum, including those from nationals of Zimbabwe, are considered on a case by case basis. Where it is found that an applicant is at risk of treatment amounting to persecution under the terms of the 1951 Convention, the grant of asylum is made. If an applicant's particular circumstances are found to engage the UK's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, then a form of subsidiary protection is granted. Applicants who are found, by the Home Office and the independent appeals process, not to be in need of international protection are deemed to be safe from persecution, and are therefore liable for return to their country of origin.
 
On 14 October 2010, the Immigration Minister announced in Parliament that we would be resuming enforced returns of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe. Such returns have now commenced, reflecting changes in Zimbabwe and ending the anomaly of failed asylum seekers from Zimbabwe being treated differently to those of all other nations. Those facing return will join the hundreds who have returned voluntarily, responding to calls by the Zimbabwean Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, to return home and help rebuild their country.

When making that announcement, the Immigration Minister said that, for practical reasons, we would not actually enforce any returns until after the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the Unified Tribunal Service had issued its judgment in a further country guidance case on the general safety of returns to Zimbabwe. That way, we can ensure that those being forcibly returned have had their case considered against the full range of the latest available country evidence as well as risk factors identified by the independent Courts.

That judgment has now been handed down. Amongst other things the Tribunal specifically considered the likelihood of elections in Zimbabwe and the possibility of a return to violence when such elections are called. The Tribunal, nevertheless, found that not all asylum seekers from Zimbabwe are in need of international protection and that the situation has improved significantly since 2008. We also welcomed the Court's findings that all asylum applications from Zimbabwe should continue to be considered on their merits and, as always, continue to consider each individual case with enormous care in accordance with the guidance given by the Courts about current conditions in Zimbabwe.

We will continue to grant protection to those Zimbabweans who need it and take our international responsibilities seriously. Each application for protection will continue to be considered on its merits. Our returns policy will be kept under review and will be reassessed should the situation in Zimbabwe change significantly.

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