The Minister for Immigration Mr Damian Green issued a written ministerial statement on 14 October 2010 that the UKBA will be resuming enforced returns of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe.
In September 2006 the then Immigration and Nationality Directorate suspended enforced returns to Zimbabwe because the unstable political situation in that country meant that safety of persons removed could not be guaranteed.
However, owing to the formation of the Inclusive Government in 2009, Zimbabwe is now considered stable enough to receive returnees.
The consequences of this policy will mean that all Zimbabweans living in the UK illegally now face enforced removal.
Damian Green, the Minister for Immigration, stated that:
‘We have today announced the resumption of enforced returns to Zimbabwe for failed asylum seekers judged by the independent courts to have no right to remain in the UK.
‘This decision reflects the improved stability in Zimbabwe since 2009 and the UK court’s view that not all Zimbabweans are in need of international protection.
‘Those facing return will join the hundreds who have returned voluntarily, responding to calls by Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to return home and help rebuild their country.
‘The British government takes its international responsibilities seriously and will always grant protection to those in genuine need, and continue to monitor events in Zimbabwe.’
It remains far from certain if these views are satisfactorily robust in light of the political situation in the country.
In resistance to the government’s stance these voices were heard on the Guardian newspaper in relation to the policy:
Sarah Harland of the Zimbabwe Association in London said it was too soon to resume forced returns. “We remain keen to work with the UK government around a sustainable and stable voluntary return programme, as most Zimbabweans wish to go home and rebuild their country when the time is right.
“ZA does not believe that this is the right time for enforced returns, with control of the state security forces (police, army, CIO) remaining in the hands of the perpetrators of violence. A recent international report on the state of the rule of law in Zimbabwe after the Global Political Agreement (GPA), recognises ‘there has been no improvement and quite possibly a further decline in respect for the rule of law since the signing of the GPA’.”
Donna Covey, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “We are concerned the government plans to resume forcibly returning Zimbabwean asylum seekers to their country, however it is encouraging that they recognise each individual case needs to be carefully considered before deciding whether to send them back.
“The government must ensure there is substantive evidence to prove these individuals will not be under personal threat of persecution or human rights abuses if returned to Zimbabwe. Moreover it is imperative the government offers support to the people they have returned and to monitor their safety, so they can be sure they are not sending people to further harm.”