Britain to resume deportations to Zimbabwe after landmark ruling


    Immigration minister Damian Green said the government would be bringing its policy on Zimbabwean asylum seekers into line with that on every other country.

    The move comes after asylum judges ruled there was no evidence that those being returned would generally be at risk of harm.

    However, each case would still be considered "on their individual merits and with enormous care", the UK Border Agency said.

    Matthew Coats, the agency’s head of immigration, said: "We welcome the court’s findings.

    "The UK border agency will continue to consider all asylum applications from Zimbabwe on their individual merits and with enormous care.

    "We prefer people who are here illegally to leave voluntarily and we offer an assistance package to help them re-integrate into their home country.

    "For those who choose not to do so, it becomes necessary to enforce their departure."

    Mr Justice Blake, president of the Upper Tribunal of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber said there was no "significantly less politically-motivated violence in Zimbabwe".

    Ruling that failed asylum seekers could be returned in three out of the four cases he was considering, the judge said those being returned to Harare "will in general face no significant difficulties".

    Those returning to the rural areas of Matabeleland North or Matabeleland South would also generally be "highly unlikely to face significant difficulty from Zanu-PF elements, including the security forces," he said.

    But he warned the situation was not the same across the whole country and was likely to be different for those without Zanu-PF connections returning to other rural areas.

    Teachers face "an enhanced or heightened risk", he ruled, adding that each case would need to be judged on an individual basis.

    Last October, Mr Green announced the government’s intention to resume returning failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe.

    But he said that the government would not enforce the first returns until the Immigration and Asylum Chamber gave further guidance on the "general safety of return to Zimbabwe".

    Mr Green said: "It is in everyone’s interest for people to return to Zimbabwe and use their skills to support themselves and help rebuild the country.

    "There are some Zimbabweans who continue to have a well-founded fear of persecution; we continue to grant protection to those people.

    "As with any other nationality, every case is considered on its individual merits and against the background of the latest available country information."

    He went on: "The courts have found that not all Zimbabweans are in need of international protection.

    "Given the improved situation on the ground in Zimbabwe since the formation of the inclusive government in 2009, the time is now right to bring our policy on returns of failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers into line with that on every other country.

    "Those found not to be in need of protection have always been expected to return home."