Issued 18:16, 06 July 2005:
In response to the decision in the High Court today blocking further removals of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe, Maeve Sherlock, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, said:
“This High Court decision reflects an obvious fact: that it is clearly unsafe to send anyone back to Zimbabwe in the current circumstances. We’ve been calling for the government to reinstate its moratorium on returns to Mugabe’s murderous regime, where human rights abuses are commonplace. It’s been clear that public support for this call has been growing. So we’re delighted that there’ll be no more deportations and that Zimbabweans terrified at the prospect of being sent back – including those on hunger strike – have had the threat of removal lifted.”
Issued 17:45, 27 June 2005:
In response to a statement from Charles Clarke in the House of Commons on the policy of returning failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe, Maeve Sherlock, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“The Refugee Council is extremely disappointed that the Government has failed to take this opportunity to recognise the real dangers faced by people forced to return to Zimbabwe. Our 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 clearly not safe.
The case grows ever stronger for an independent body, charged with upholding the right to asylum, to make these decisions.”
Issued 13:00, 27 June 2005:
In response to news about removals of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe, Maeve Sherlock, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“The Refugee Council opposed the resumption of forced returns to Zimbabwe when the policy change was announced last November and we have consistently lobbied the government to stop the removals. We are profoundly worried about asylum seekers being returned to Zimbabwe in the current circumstances. Zimbabwe is patently unsafe and we call on the Government to stop all removals until the situation there really has improved.
This issue highlights the fundamental importance of careful scrutiny of any decision to return a failed asylum-seeker to a country which is unstable.
We call on the Government to ensure that the UK really is a place of sanctuary and urge the minister to declare that we will not return people to countries which are not safe. Asylum is a human right, and officials looking at decisions for individuals should not be trying to reach a target, which inevitably skews their judgment.
The call is growing louder for 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..”
For further information, please contact Hannah Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7346 1213/6702 .
For urgent or out of hours inquiries ring 0870 0555500 & ask for pager 865169.
Observer: Church hits at Zimbabwe deportations
Mirror: Save the Mugabe Refugees