Home Office Faces Legal Cases Over Zimbabwean Asylum Seekers

The Home Office faces a series of legal challenges over its decision to allow Zimbabwean government officials to interview people from the country who are seeking asylum in the UK. The government was criticised earlier this year for working with the Zimbabwean state to accelerate the removal of asylum seekers after Robert Mugabe was forced from power, despite continuing human rights abuses in the country. Zimbabweans seeking asylum in the UK, who fear persecution by the new government, were asked to attend Home Office centres across the UK, only to find officials from the government in Harare waiting to question them. Lawyers acting on behalf of one of the applicants, Chishamiso Mkundi, 51, applied for a judicial review after his asylum claim was rejected.

Granting permission for the review last month, judges said: “It is at least arguable that the respondent [the home secretary, Priti Patel] failed to consider whether her own actions, in inviting an official from the Zimbabwean embassy to an interview with the Home Office in December 2018, might have brought the applicant to the direct attention to the Zimbabwean authorities.” Many asylum seekers from Zimbabwe sought refuge in the UK because of their anti-government protests or support for the country’s opposition. Their claims were often rejected on the basis that they were not of sufficiently high profile to come to the attention of the Zimbabwe authorities and thus risk being mistreated on their return.

Read more: Frances Perraudin, Guardian,

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