By Hannah, Campaigns and Public Affairs Team
So I find myself at the High Court, at yet another hearing relating to whether Zimbabweans should be sent home or not, and I have been here so many times before now I’ve lost count. The absurdity of it all is made all the more poignant by the events of recent weeks, and the statements made by the UK government condemning the Mugabe regime – yes, the same government that is back in court today, continuing to battle through the legal process to be able to force Zimbabweans to return to Zimbabwe.
The small court is packed – it is a hearing on whether to allow the legal team representing the Zimbabwean individual at the centre of the case permission to appeal the latest Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) ruling, and the decision made will be pivotal. If permission is refused, the government will be able to begin forced removals to Zimbabwe. Members of the press are there too: in light of the recent elections, the hearing is timely. But as the hearing progresses, it becomes clear that there is another factor at play – a legal technicality involving another, unrelated case going through the House of Lords – and the judges are reluctant to make a decision until the outcome of that case is known, and so the hearing is adjourned.
We file out with mixed feelings – it is obviously a huge relief that Zimbabweans will avoid the threat of removal for a while longer. However, the case began its journey through the courts three years ago, and despite not being returned, many Zimbabweans whose claims have been refused live in extreme poverty – not allowed to work or claim benefits, they remain homeless and often destitute. Surely, we say to each other, surely it is time the government ends this expensive and dangerous legal battle and offers Zimbabweans some form of status that allows them to work and support themselves, and gives them their lives back until the Mugabe regime is ended and they can return to help rebuild their shattered country.