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Zimbabwean teacher lose UK political asylum battle, face deportation

by Staff reporter
30 May 2013 at 05:10hrs | Views
A Zimbabwean teacher has lost her battle for political asylum in the UK and is now set to be deported to Bulawayo. 
In dismissing her appeal Immigration judges said that there was no evidence to back up claims that the teacher who came to the UK in 2008 would face political persecution if forcibly returned to Zimbabwe. 
They accepted that prior to 2008 teachers, especially in rural areas, faced an enhanced risk because of their positions in society. 
"Thus, as we have observed, the factors that led to the enhanced risk for teachers, above and beyond the risk to any citizen of Zimbabwe unable, if called upon to do so, to demonstrate loyalty to the regime, were threefold. First, teachers were perceived to be "opinion formers", occupying a position in society such as to provide them with an opportunity to influence the thinking of young people; second, they were perceived as more likely to be supporters of the MDC than of Zanu-PF; and third, many acted as polling officers, sometimes being required to discharge that role as schools were used as polling stations, so that they were suspected of seeking to influence the process of voting itself to the disadvantage of the ruling party. 
"It is important to bear in mind, also, that the enhanced risk to teachers was associated with the tensions and violence associated with the election cycle in Zimbabwe which, by the time of EM, varied significantly from area to area.
"It is clear that there was a significant change in country conditions subsequent to the peak of the violence in the lead up to and in the run-off from the 2008 elections. The power sharing agreement between Zanu-PF and the MDC was very far from perfect but it brought to the country a degree of stability." 
The judges said the teacher would be safe in Bulawayo.  
The Zimbabwean had claimed that she would be at risk on return to Zimbabwe on account of her political opinion as a supporter or member of the MDC. She and her husband had both worked as teachers in Zimbabwe in Nkayi, which is in Matabeleland North, about three hours drive from Bulawayo. In interview she said that her husband "taught agriculture" and she herself worked part time as a teacher at primary school level. She explained that in 2008 soldiers came to the school and accused her husband of teaching MDC politics to the boys. They were both beaten and her husband was taken away.
She said she went to stay at the family home in Bulawayo and a few days later discovered her husband's body at the morgue. Soon after that she was visited by the men who she presumed were responsible for her husband's death. As a consequence of the demands they made of her she left for South Africa where, about two months later, she secured the services of an agent who arranged her flight to the United Kingdom.
The initial judge dismissed her claim because he did not accept to be true any part of the her account of being a member or supporter of the MDC or of having attracted any adverse attention from soldiers or anyone else before choosing to leave Zimbabwe and travel to the United Kingdom. Having identified significant inconsistencies and contradictions in the appellant's evidence he concluded that it had been "fabricated".
The teacher had then appealed but the Upper Immigration judges did not believe her either.
The Zimbabwean also claimed a right to family life since she now had a child with a British man.  
"We accept that the appellant has a child, born in the United Kingdom on 10th June 2010 and so aged 2 years and 10 months. But we reject her late assertion that this child may be a British Citizen. The father, who lives in a different city than does the appellant, has contributed nothing at all in support of the appellant's account of the child and we simply do not accept that what she says is true. The appellant has had the benefit of experienced solicitors throughout and it is simply not credible that, if the child were indeed a British citizen in regular or even sporadic contact with a British father who was intent on maintaining contact or even wished to commence contact, that there would be nothing to support the appellant's bare assertion to that effect.   
"Thus the best interests of this very young child are to be with her mother, and her mother's place is in her country of nationality where we are satisfied she will be able to live in the family home in Bulawayo with her other two children from whom she has been separated since 2008.  
"There is no continuing relationship with the father of her child and so there will be no interference with family life. Nor is there any evidence of any significant private life in the United Kingdom. Therefore, on the evidence presented, there is no engagement of article 8, even recognising that the threshold of engagement is not a particularly high one.  
"The appellant told us that she would not work again as a teacher because it had been too long since she had done so and she would need to retrain. But she has also worked in Zimbabwe in a shop and will have access to the informal economy in Zimbabwe in common with many others.  She is plainly a resourceful woman who does have family assistance to call upon, even if the family has become geographically dislocated. Although she will, like many citizens of Zimbabwe, find life challenging, we do not accept that she will face destitution on return or be otherwise unable to provide for her children, nor that whatever arrangements are in place to provide for the continuing education of her younger child now in Zimbabwe will be interrupted as a consequence of her return."

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