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Politicians call for suspension of deportations to Zimbabwe

DEPORTATIONS: Campaigners are calling for the Home Office to suspend the removal of Zimbabwean asylum seekers

POLITICIANS HAVE deemed Zimbabwe a human rights-free zone and called for deportations to the country to be suspended.

Speaking in the House of Lords yesterday, Labour peer Peter Hain said: “Given the current climate in Zimbabwe, which is a human rights-free zone, and with President Mnangagwa and his military henchmen cracking down on individual freedom and particularly the opposition, nobody should be deported, especially when families are protesting about the desperate situation they will probably face.”

Lord Alton of Liverpool also supported a suspension of deportations to the country.

He said: “Given what has been said...about the continuing arrests, abductions, torture and beatings — and the serious concerns expressed not just in the UK, but around the world — would it not be prudent in the meantime to suspend deportations until those issues have been more thoroughly considered?”

Responding to the concerns, Baroness Williams of Trafford said the government acknowledges there are certain risks to some individuals who oppose the ruling ZANU-PF administration but that this does not extend to all cases.

She said: “The UK continues to call for the Government of Zimbabwe to uphold the rule of law and human rights and promote free and fair elections, under the protection of the 2013 constitution and international human rights law. The Home Office seeks to return only those whose asylum claim has been unsuccessful. They are, by definition, not at risk on return. All protection claims from Zimbabwean nationals are carefully considered on their individual merits in accordance with our international obligations.”

The peers’ statements come after campaigners have criticised the Home Office for fast-tracking the deportation of asylum seekers from Zimbabwe amid the concerning human rights situation in the country.

According to reports, Home Office has been working with the Zimbabwean government to speed up the deportation of asylum seekers, including those who have lived in the UK for more than 10 years.

Victor Mujakachi, one of many facing deportation to Zimbabwe, has a warrant for his arrest issued after he critiqued the re-election of Robert Mugabe online.

His application for asylum in the UK was denied, as were two further applications.

Yesterday it was announced that Mujakachi, a volunteer with charity Assist Sheffield who is currently being detained in an immigration removal centre, has had his deportation from the UK postponed.

Labour MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough Gill Furniss said: “I am incredibly pleased that following my interventions with the Home Office and a petition of over 7500 people we have now secured a three month window in which Victor will not be removed from the UK. However, Victor remains detained at Morton Hall and work to release him is continuing.”

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