On Saturday, the Refugee Council joined over 100 supporters at the human rights Zimbabwe vigil that gathers every Saturday outside the Zimbabwean Embassy in London. This weekend marked the vigil’s third anniversary and focused on supporting Zimbabwean refugees who are currently facing deportation pending the outcome of a major UK tribunal on 5 October 2005.
MP Kate Hoey, the chairperson of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe, was present along with civil rights and church activists. Those attending were keen to raise public awareness about the hearing and the dangers of refugees from the Mugabe regime being sent back to Zimbabwe.
The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) will look at new evidence of the current situation in Zimbabwe. Deportations were suspended since August following the adjournment of 4 cases that had been brought by lawyers representing Zimbabwean failed asylum seekers.
The lawyers were seeking to demonstrate that Zimbabweans returning to Mugabe’s regime faced danger because of the fact that they claimed asylum in the UK. Justice Collins “stayed” the cases until the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) and the Home Office suspended deportations pending the outcome of the hearing.
The Home Office has indicated that they would consider the outcome as critical to their policy of returning failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe, although they have not currently changed their position.
Zimbabwe Vigil: London protests against Zimbabwe oppression continue
United Network of Detained Zimbabweans (UNDZ) has also organised a picket outside the tribunal hearings on the 5th, 6th and 7th October at Fealdhouse, 15 Breams Buildings, London EC4.