Ministers accused over return of refugees to Zimbabwe
Saturday 28 June 2008
Ministers were accused of "breathtaking double standards" for attempting to send thousands of failed asylum-seekers back to Zimbabwe, despite the government-sponsored violence there.
Campaigners expressed horror that the Home Office is pressing ahead with a High Court battle to deport up to 13,000 Zimbabweans despite warnings they face persecution if they are returned to their homeland because they have sought asylum in Britain.
Refugee groups will stage a final attempt on Wednesday to appeal against a ruling that could allow ministers to begin deportations.
Earlier this week, Gordon Brown denounced Robert Mugabe's regime as a "criminal cabal", while the Foreign Office warned against all travel to Zimbabwe. But No 10 yesterday told campaigners they "expect shortly to be in a position to enforce the return of those unsuccessful Zimbabwean asylum-seekers who have been found not to need the protection of the UK yet refuse to leave voluntarily".
Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, said: "Gordon Brown has said 'Britain will not shirk our responsibilities to the people of Zimbabwe' and that includes those who have come here seeking our protection. No one should be sent back to Zimbabwe at the moment."
The Home Office has been battling in court for almost three years to win the right to deport failed Zimbabwean asylum-seekers. Next week's hearing in the Court of Appeal centres on a woman known only as HS – her identity is protected by an anonymity order. A doctor, she faces removal even though her brother has been allowed to settle in the UK because of his involvement with the opposition MDC.
Sarah Harland, co-ordinator of the Zimbabwe Association in Britain, said: "I think the double standards are breathtaking. It would be insane to send people back at this time."
A government source said there were no "immediate" plans to enforce returns to Zimbabwe. A spokeswoman for the UK Border Agency said: "We have made clear our grave concerns about the appalling human rights situation in Zimbabwe, and continue to press for an end to abuses. We will continue to provide protection for any asylum-seekers that we or an independent judge deems in need of protection. That's a proud tradition in our country and we intend to honour it."
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason
Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama
- 2 Scottish independence: What you shouldn't tweet about if you want to avoid jail today
- 3 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 4 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
- 5 Scottish independence: Andy Murray backs Yes campaign in eleventh hour decision
Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
Scottish independence referendum live: Latest news as Scotland votes Yes or No
Scottish independence: Final opinion polls show undecided voters could swing result either way
Scottish independence: Almost half of No voters have felt 'personally threatened' by the Yes campaign
Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...
£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...