Detention Watch from Zimbabwe Association(01-02-07)

LONDON - Following on from last week's column, let's consider what might happen if AA wins his appeal. Many people believe that a "win" will result in automatic refugee status for all Zimbabwean asylum seekers. This will not happen. If the appeal is won, there is the possibility of part of the case

being remitted back to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) at Field House.
What will happen if the AIT finds that any contact with the CIO at Harare airport carries with it a real risk of ill treatment? If it is agreed that forcible removal will expose people to ill treatment, there may be a suspension on forced removals. According to the current Home Office position this should also mean that Zimbabweans would win their Human Rights appeals, resulting in a grant of Humanitarian Protection.
Many people have cases still going through the system which are linked to AA. If AA wins or loses, these cases should still be considered on their individual merits, and some will be granted refugee status.
An even harsher climate for foreign nationals is indicated by the publication of the No Borders Bill last week. It aims at equipping the new Border and Immigration Agency with a wide range of powers to deter, detect and deport those breaking the rules and ensure that those foreign nationals legally in the UK play their part in upholding the rules. Those living in the UK from outside the European Economic Area may have to apply for a “biometric immigration document”, which will be compulsory biometric ID. This ID will help the authorities tackle fraud, illegal working and multiple identities. The penalty for not obtaining biometric ID will be a fine of up to £1,000 or may result in the person losing their leave to remain in the UK. The Bill receives its second reading in the House of Commons on 5 February.
A Home Office letter plus questionnaire received by one member recently suggests that the HO is finally taking steps to tackle the enormous backlog of cases awaiting attention. Has anyone else had a similar letter? We’d be interested in knowing if people with fresh claims from as far back as 2003 are being dealt with at last.
Many readers have received text messages asking them to vote for an ‘amnesty’ for immigrants. It would be wise to check for the source of the text message before forwarding such messages onwards. We have contacted the Refugee Council about the message but they were not aware of any ‘amnesty’ at this time.
We can usually 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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