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Disquiet over deportations - Zimbabwe Vigil Diary

25 Jul 2021 at 22:25hrs | Views
Even after discounting the more questionable assertions by campaigners, disquieting questions remain about the deportation of 14 Zimbabweans from the UK last Wednesday.

The UK Home Secretary Priti Patel - haunted by her failure to curb illegal immigration - said the deportees had all been jailed for offences such as murder, rape, sexual abuse of children and robbery. It is difficult to challenge her decision in these cases.

Patel said they had all been given the opportunity to raise asylum and human rights claims and that they were not at risk on return to Zimbabwe. Here the Home Secretary is on less secure grounds. She referred to 'country of origin information': this is an assessment of the situation by the Foreign Office which some people, including the Vigil, dispute in the case of Zimbabwe.

One prospective deportee succeeded in getting a last-minute High Court order preventing his removal. In his case the judge decided that anyone subjected to face to face interviews with Zimbabwean officials before being sent back could be at risk on return. These contentious interviews with Zimbabwean Embassy officials have been a matter of concern to Zimbabwean refugees for some time - reflected in the judge's decision.

We understand that no one can be deported from the UK unless their country of origin will accept them and that it is quite legitimate for the UK Embassy in Harare to have talks about this with the Zimbabwean government. But we are disturbed by suggestions that not only blatant criminals will be sent back but also others.

Whatever the Foreign Office thinks, the Vigil does not believe that Zimbabwe is a safe place and we support the 75 British parliamentarians who signed a letter drafted by the All-Party Group on Zimbabwe raising concerns about what they say is a deteriorating political and human rights situation there. In a letter to the Home Secretary they wrote: 'The Zimbabwe government is systematically oppressing its political opponents, denying freedom of speech and committing gross human rights violations.'

In Zimbabwe, a spokesman for the Foreign Affairs ministry, Livit Mugejo, said the deportees were welcome home and would receive help with reintegration.

Source - ZimVigil
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