Judge slams Zimbabwean woman asylum case

LONDON – A judge today slammed the publicly-funded 'merry-go-round' of immigration appeals which has left a young Zimbabwean woman's future still 'up in the air' a decade after she arrived in Britain.\r\n

The 28-year-old woman – referred to only as ‘RM’ – has so far had her asylum claims considered by the Home Office and two specialist immigration judges – all at public expense – and today’s Appeal Court ruling means she must now start the process all over again.

Commenting on the already vast legal bills run up in the case, senior judge, Lord Justice Pitchford, said: ‘I shake my head in despair if not in disbelief at this extraordinary process which occupies so much court time’.

However, he said it was ‘regrettably’ necessary to send RM’s case back for consideration yet again by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal.

‘This means another hearing, and more expenditure of public money on legal costs on both sides, probably with more appeals to follow, and all of this in respect of a young woman who arrived in this country nearly 10 years ago as a visitor,’ said the judge.

‘As far as I can tell she has no real family left in Zimbabwe; her aunts are all here and they wish for their mother, RM’s grandmother, to join them in the United Kingdom.

‘As a result of our decision, the appellant’s future in this country is once more up in the air and still the merry-go-round goes round, and round, and round again’.

RM was just 18 when she first arrived in Britain to visit her aunt in July 2001. She was later granted leave to remain as a student and, when that expired, put in an asylum claim.

That was refused by the Home Office in 2006 but, since then her appeals have been heard by two immigration judges. The first said her fears of returning to President Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe were ‘not well founded’, but the second disagreed and granted her asylum.

That prompted Home Secretary, Theresa May, to launch an appeal, which succeeded today, with the result that RM’s case was sent back for fresh consideration at the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal.

Lord Justice Pitchford, sitting with Lords Justice Ward and Leveson, said the immigration judge who allowed RM’s asylum claim was ‘not entitled to assume’ that she would be subjected to persecution if she was sent back to Zimbabwe as a ‘non-voluntary’ returnee. – Daily Mail