TWO ZIMBAS DETAINED IN THE UK

 Two Zimbabwean asylum seekers have been detained in the UK and are set to be deported.

The Guardian reports that the pair are detained at the Home Office’s Vulcan House building. It is thought that the UK government is preparing to deport them within days. 

 One of them, Victor Mujakachi, came to the UK as a postgraduate student in 2003. Zimbabwean authorities issued a warrant for his arrest in 2008 after he made critical comments online about the re-election of Mugabe. He subsequently had three applications for asylum turned down.

 On 28 January at 4pm, the courts also had to grant an “urgent stay of removal” for a Zimbabwean refused asylum who was due to be deported at 5.25pm that evening. The reason given for the decision was the volatile conditions in the country. 

 The applicant claimed to have a profile as an opposition activist and said their family members had been arrested. The judge noted that serious concerns had been expressed by governments around the world, including the UK, about conditions in Zimbabwe. 

 Over the last few months, Zimbabweans across the UK have been asked to attend interviews at Home Office centres. When they attended they found Zimbabwean government officials waiting to interview them. 

The asylum seeker charity, Assist Sheffield, said it was extremely worried about Victor Mujakachi’s safety if he were to be forcibly returned to Zimbabwe. It said he was an invaluable volunteer in many charities in the area, including its emergency night shelter, and had won awards for his charity work.

 “Victor is an outspoken critic of successive Zimbabwean governments and has expressed worries for his safety, should he be returned, especially given the recent brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters in the country,” the organisation said in a statement.

 In a recent petition to the Home Office, UK-based members of the the MDC, called on the government to give amnesty to all Zimbabweans who had been in the UK more than 10 years. 

 “Most Zimbabweans in the UK are now settled, and they now have private and family life in the UK,” the petition said. 

“The issue of the Windrush generation shows that the Home Office has sometimes got it wrong, but the secretary of state has got the power to take corrective action.” Alice Muzira, a lawyer at Thompson and Co Solicitors, said the UK government should urgently review its position while there were still human rights violations in Zimbabwe. 

“Removals should be suspended and the situation in relation to safety of returns to Zimbabwe closely monitored,” she said.

 Andrew Nyamayaro, principal solicitor at Tann Law Solicitors, said: “Civilians are being tortured by members of the armed forces and the ruling party. Enforcing removals of Zimbabweans from the UK at this juncture is tantamount to sending someone to a death chamber.” 

 Nyamayaro’s colleague, Rumbi Bvunzawabaya, said her clients had been badly affected by the latest round of interviews. 

“We have clients who are suicidal, who have been sectioned, since the news [about the interviews] came out. People are afraid,” she said. 

 Diane Abbott, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said: “The government’s resumption of deportations to Zimbabwe is in line with their hostile environment policy. The Home Office appear to have little regard for potential human rights abuses and are deporting people who may be at risk. This should not be happening in any case where serious human rights are under threat.”  
  

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