2 July 2005
Judge stops Zimbabwe deportation
Dozens of Zimbabwean asylum seekers are held at Yarl’s Wood
A High Court judge has stepped in to stop the deportation from the UK of a failed Zimbabwean asylum seeker who is on hunger strike.
The 26-year-old woman, being held at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, had been told she would be put on a flight to Harare on Saturday night.
She is one of many detained Zimbabweans protesting at the lifting of a ban on forced removals to their country.
Lawyers successfully applied for a High Court injunction to stop her removal.
The woman, who did not want her name revealed, is one of at least 50 Zimbabweans held in the UK on hunger strike in protest at the lifting of the ban.
Solicitor Jovanka Savic said: “In this case the judge decided the removal was inappropriate and has given an order that it be stayed.”
It was reported this week that deportations had been put on hold until after the G8 summit.
But the Home Office says there has been no change in policy.
A spokesman said later he would not comment on individual cases but added: “There are no removal directions in place for tomorrow (Sunday).”
Kate Hoey MP said the attempt to deport the woman by the government was a “shameful act”.
“To do it on the same day they support something like the Live 8 concert shows outrageous hypocrisy,” she added.
Pressure has been mounting recently for the Home Office to halt deportations as increasing evidence of human rights abuses in the troubled African state comes to light.
Last Friday, a Zimbabwean opposition official due to be deported from the UK won a temporary reprieve.
Crispen Kulinji, 32, who is also on hunger strike, said he was “not prepared to face a dictator at home” and would “definitely” be killed.
Mr Kulinji is being held at Campsfield House, in Oxford.
I can’t believe they now want to send me back to the lion’s den
Zimbabwean hunger striker
Recent moves in Zimbabwe to demolish informal settlements – which the UN says has left 275,000 people homeless – have drawn objections from the Foreign Office.
The Zimbabwean woman has been in detention for more than six months and is being held at Yarl’s Wood in Bedfordshire.
“I am so weak I can hardly walk. I have not eaten for eleven days and I have not had any fluids for four days,” the woman said earlier.
“I am so confused. One minute you are told the deportations have been stopped.
“I can’t believe they now want to send me back to the lion’s den,” she added.
The woman, 26, says her father, a manager for a white farmer, was killed by Zanu PF supporters of Robert Mugabe during a farm invasion in 2000.
Removal of settlements in Zimbabwe have provoked criticism
After she sought asylum in the UK, she heard that her two brothers had been killed.
The woman had gained support from Liberal Democrat MP John Austin.
“While I recognise there are a number of people who could not be classified as refugees under the convention, I think there is a risk to almost anyone being deported back home to Zimbabwe at this present time,” he said.
Conservative Alistair Burt, Shadow Minister for communities and regeneration and local MP for Yarl’s Wood, said that he had tried to halt the deportation.
“I strongly object to anyone being sent back to Zimbabwe at the present time,” he said on Saturday.