The Refugee Council today pledged its support for a demonstration being staged this Saturday 16 September (12pm outside Leeds Art Gallery) by the Zimbabwean Community in Leeds. The demonstration is calling for an end to the detention and deportation of unsuccessful Zimbabwean asylum seekers.
Following a recent ruling (2nd August 2006) of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in London (1) the Immigration and Nationality Directorate has begun detaining Zimbabweans again, with a view to a new wave of forced returns. Deportations had formerly been halted following a ruling at the High Court in October 2005 which found that all asylum seekers being returned to Zimbabwe faced persecution because of the attitude of the Zimbabwean Government to returned asylum seekers.
Charlotte Cooke, Refugee Council Team Manager (Yorkshire and Humberside) said, “The Refugee Council is extremely concerned about the new wave of detention of Zimbabwean asylum seekers and we are very fearful for the safety of Zimbabweans who face the prospect of being returned to Mugabe’s murderous regime.
“Our Government’s responsibilities are clear: even if someone is not accepted by our government as being a refugee, we do not send them back into danger, and Zimbabwe is patently not safe.
“Zimbabweans should be given a temporary status allowing them to remain in the UK and have the right to work until such time as it is safe to return to Zimbabwe.
“The Refugee Council wants to see an independent body for all decisions on asylum – including whether it is safe to return – so that policy on asylum is ruled by safety rather than targets for removals.”
(1) Refugee council briefing on Zimbabwe:
Update on the situation of Zimbabwean asylum seekers [August 2006]