Court of Appeal backs government over Zimbabwean asylum case

The Court of Appeal today backed the government in ruling that asylum seekers from Zimbabwe should not be given automatic refugee status.

Last October, the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal judged that it was unsafe to deport asylum seekers to Zimbabwe and that people from that country should be given automatic refugee status.

However, the government appealed against this judgement and today three judges allowed the appeal and said that refugee status should not automatically be given.

The cases of LK and AA, the individual asylum seekers involved, will now be referred back to the Tribunal to be heard again and each case will be looked at individually rather than introducing a blanket ban on deporting asylum seekers to Zimbabwe.

Chief executive of the Refugee Council Maeve Sherlock said that although Home Office says it will not forcibly return asylum seekers to Zimbabwe, the decision leaves a question mark over their future.

“The original decision was a common sense reaction to what is currently an extremely volatile situation in Zimbabwe. It did not result in masses of Zimbabweans coming to our shores, it merely meant that people could get some temporary respite from the dangers they faced. Unfortunately they will now face uncertainty once again,” she said.

“We would ask the government to show compassion by ending this legal limbo and restore the moratorium on returning people to Zimbabwe, so that Zimbabweans who have come here looking for safety can actually go to bed at night without worrying they will be returned home the next day,” Sherlock concluded.

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