30 October 2006 – Detention Watch from Zimbabwe Association

An everyday story of one woman in trouble helps illustrate what the ZA is about. Our heroine (V), who has suffered extraordinary persecution, was recently refused asylum. V's lawyer, a well-regarded firm in the North, put in an appeal on her behalf but did not apply for legal aid funding to take

the case further, effectively leaving V to face the courts alone. V is an elderly woman with limited education from rural Zimbabwe. Is it really fair or just to expect her to take on the British judicial system unaided?
Fortunately ZA has been able to find V an excellent lawyer in London, and has assisted her to travel to London for legal appointments. Legal aid will not fund this transport as they say there are plenty of competent legal firms in the North who could take the case. We disagree because if one of the best-regarded Northern firms has already dumped V, we think it’s unlikely anyone else up there will take the case. After one appointment between V and the London lawyer, V’s future is looking much brighter. For the first time V has a lawyer who really believes in her, feels that she has a very strong case and will fight for her. That’s what everyone needs.
ZA is aware of around 22 Zimbabweans in detention at the moment. Some have been detained for several months and are desperate to hear from those outside whether it’s through phone calls or emails. Although we try to keep calling detainees on a regular basis they need more contact than we are able to provide. If you are able to befriend a detainee please contact the office and we will give you contact details for those people who have asked us to do so. Quite a number of bail hearings are coming up this week so with luck some people may be released in the near future. It is looking likely that there will be news on the AA case soon so please keep your ears open. There is also a new Country of Origin Information Report on Zimbabwe that has just been issued by the Home Office and is worth taking a look at.
The feverish preparations of the last few weeks continued right up to the arrival of the first of our members at this year’s ZA Annual General Meeting. Many thanks to Siphiwe, Edith, Ancilla and Luka who did a great job with the catering and last-minute photocopying. A decent sized crowd of around 40 travelled from as far away as Liverpool and Manchester to attend our meeting. Amongst those attending were such people as Father Bernard who has been a great support to us over the years and we appreciated his presence.
Our Chair Brighton Chireka welcomed everyone reminding them that it was ZA’s fifth anniversary and although it was unfortunate that we were still necessary it was ZA is aware of around 22 Zimbabweans in detention.
an achievement to still be functioning. Business unravelled smoothly with a variety of reports being presented. Patson Muzuwa remains Convenor of the Advisory Committee which is very pleased to welcome on board Yeukai Taruvinga, Luka Phiri and Thomas Date. We all look forward to working with them in the future.
We can be contacted at the office on 020 7549 0355 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, messages may be left on the answer machine at other times, or by fax 020 7549 0356 or email: [email protected]. We also have a website at www.zimbabweassociation.org .

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