Saturday, July 18, 2009

(TALKZIMBABWE) Tsvangirai's London speech: challenge for UK immigration policy

Tsvangirai's London speech: challenge for UK immigration policy
Fri, 17 Jul 2009 10:32:00 +0000

THE United Kingdom Home Office faces a huge dilemma with regards to its immigration policy on Zimbabwe. On one hand it maintains sanctions against Zimbabwe, saying the situation in the country has not changed significantly; on the other it has to deal with a huge backlog of asylum seekers who are awaiting determination of their cases.

There is also the added burden of ceasing statuses of those Zimbabwean refugees already granted the 5 year refugee leave.

The UK is entitled to cease the status of a refugee who comes within the terms of one of the six cessation clauses in Article 1C of the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

Clause 5 (Nationals whose Reasons for Becoming a Refugee have Ceased to Exist) will be applicable to Zimbabweans granted refugee leave if the UK argues that "circumstances in connection with which the refugee was recognised have ceased to exist".

In this case those Zimbabweans already granted leave can no longer be regarded as refugees and will have to return to Zimbabwe or their leave altered. Even if they were granted some temporary leave, they will nevertheless be left vulnerable to deportation.

Current refusals for asylum have been based on a variety of factors including the June 20 speech by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that "it is now safe to return to Zimbabwe". Another oft cited case is that of MDC-T UK representative Hebson Makuvise who voluntarily gave up his refugee status to return to Zimbabwe.

These two developments will have a bearing on the Operational Guidance Note with regard to Zimbabwean Cases although the case of RN will still very much be used to determine a wide range of cases.

The Home Office will, therefore, have an added burden of ceasing refugee leave already granted in addition to putting forward evidence to show that RN does not apply in certain instances.

It will be interesting to see whether the Home Office, in refusing to grant refugee status, will have a parallel policy of cessation and deportation; i.e. ceasing the refugee status of Zimbabwean refugees.

Will they send letters to about 5,100 Zimbabweans recenlty granted leave under the legacy system, approximately 4,000 who recently claimed asylum, and approximately 7,000 already granted refugee status informing them that the situation has changed in Zimbabwe and they have to return home? Will these people simply go under the radar?

This is the fallout from PM Tsvangirai's London Southwark Cathedral speech that the political situation in Zimbabwe has fundamentally changed since the formation of the inclusive Government in February.

It presents a huge policy challenge for the British government.

The questions posed are: Have the circumstances that caused a person to be a refugee ceased to exist? Are the changes brought about by the inclusive Government both fundamental and durable? Are there any threats from new sources at home? Is it simply too early to revoke the refugee status of Zimbabwean granted asylum in Britain, even though the PM said the situation had changed?

Either way mass cessation notices will be a cause for great alarm among Zimbabwean asylum seekers and refugees alike, and a policy challenge for the British government.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home