Torture claim Thulambo family win reprieve in fight against deportation

Frances Gibb, Legal Editor

A mother and her two daughters who say that they sought sanctuary in Britain after fleeing persecution in Zimbabwe won a reprieve yesterday against deportation.

Priviledge Thulambo and her daughters Valerie, 21, and Lorraine, 19,
won permission in the High Court to bring a judicial review of the Home
Secretary's decision that they have no grounds to challenge deportation.

The three women, whose story the Home Office claims is wholly
fabricated, broke down and sobbed in court when they heard the
decision by Mr Justice Beatson. Their solicitor, Amie Henshall, called
it absolutely the right decision and said that she would apply for
the women to be freed on bail.

Mrs Thulambo, 39, who was living in Sheffield with her daughters before
they were sent to Yarl's Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire three
months ago, said: I can't believe it, after all I have gone through.
This has given me hope.

Ms Henshall said: It is just unfortunate that it has taken so long to
get to this point and sad that the Home Office has not made the
relevant inquiries.

The three women came to Britain on Malawian passports and are due to be
sent there. However, Mrs Thulambo says that she was born in Harare, the
Zimbabwean capital. Although her late husband was Malawian, she says
that she obtained the Malawian passport through fraudulent means as a
way of escaping to Britain. She argues that because her passport is
false, if she is sent to Malawi she and her daughters would face
torture and persecution.

She maintains that her late husband, a supporter of Zimbabwe's
opposition movement, was tortured by supporters of President Mugabe's
Zanu (PF) party and that she watched her brother die in agony. Lawyers
for the Home Secretary dispute her claims, arguing that the passport
has been accepted as valid, enabling her to travel extensively.

Yesterday Tasaddat Hussein, barrister for the family, said that they
should be allowed to appeal because fresh evidence had come to light.
Two letters from the Malawian authorities now call into question the
validity of that passport, he said.

Mrs Thulambo arrived in Britain in June 2002 and was granted a
six-month visitor's visa. Her first daughter arrived in January 2004.
Mrs Thulambo then claimed asylum, arguing that her daughter was
dependant on her. That claim was rejected in March 2004 and her appeal
was dismissed.

Giving his decision, Mr Justice Beatson said that the immigration
adjudicator had accepted that she was probably born in Zimbabwe but
said that her account of ill treatment and torture at the hands of
supporters of Zanu (PF) was not credible.

In August 2004 her second daughter claimed asylum. Her claim was
rejected and all three women then alleged that they had been tortured
and lodged the proceedings that led to yesterday's appeal.

Mr Justice Beatson said that the letters put before the court did give
preliminary indications that the Malawi immigration authorities
considered that passport might have been arranged through false

As a result, there were grounds for granting leave to appeal. But he
cautioned that Mrs Thalumbo and her daughters would not necessarily
succeed at the full hearing.

The Times (UK)

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