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By Staff Reporter

BRITAIN’s Asylum and Immigration Tribunal has decided that a new asylum case known as HS is to be used as the new country guidance case for Zimbabwe, replacing another case known as AA.

Sonal Ghelani of the Refugee Legal Centre, whose lawyers are pursuing both cases, said the hearing for HS had been set down for 23-27 July this year.

Ghelani said: “The reason is to avoid arguments about the scope of the hearing in AA following the Court of Appeal's remittal and to be able to deal fully with recent developments in Zimbabwe.

“The (HS) appeal will deal with refugee status and consider risk of ill-treatment and humanitarian conditions and what deterioration has occurred since last summer.”

The legal team for HS is as it was for AA . Mark Henderson at Doughty Street Chambers is counsel.

The RLC said a determination on AA, which has been to the Court of Appeal twice and is now going back to the AIT for a third time, was now likely to be determined by the decision the Tribunal reaches on HS.

Both HS and AA are Zimbabwean asylum seekers who are only known by their initials, and cannot be identified.

Sarah Harland of the Zimbabwe Association in London told New that they remained hopeful deportations to Zimbabwe would be halted in response to the deteriorating human rights situation in the country.

“The positive side of the decision to use a different case from AA is that it may be quicker to resolve. With AA already on third attempt, who is to know if there will be AA4 or AA5?”

Tribunal judges will be persuaded by HS’ lawyers to declare Zimbabwe an unsafe destination to deport failed asylum seekers.

Harland said: “The Tribunal will be assessing the present state of the situation. They will look at people who returned voluntarily, and forced returns to see if they are at any risk of ill treatment.

“The situation in Zimbabwe is so volatile at the moment that it could have deteriorated in the next month or two, or on the other hand there could be a miraculous recovery, if you are the optimistic type. So the Tribunal will be making an assessment of all those factors.”

Human rights groups and asylum campaigners in the UK say asylum seekers returned to Zimbabwe face harassment and possible torture by state security agents who see them as “British agents of regime change”.

The Zimbabwe Association says 16 145 Zimbabweans applied for asylum in the United Kingdom between 2000 and 2004. A majority of the claims remain unresolved or have been dismissed.
The Association says 1 010 Zimbabweans claimed asylum in 2000, a further 2 115 in 2001, some 7 695 claims in 2002, 3 280 claims in 2003 and 2 045 we made in 2004.
The AA and HS legal team needs your help. Are you a former state security agent familiar with the treatment of returned asylum seekers, or have you been deported and faced harassment? Have you been denied medical care or food assistance on political grounds? Contact the Zimbabwe Association on Tuesdays and Thursdays on 02075490355

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