UN reacts to Biti deportation by Zambian authorities

Spread This News

By Staff Reporter

THE United Nations Refugee Agency says it was gravely concerned with the controversial decision by Zambian authorities to deport MDC Alliance co-principal Tendai Biti, who had crossed into the neighbouring country seeking asylum.

“UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is gravely concerned about reports of the forced return of a Zimbabwean asylum-seeker by Zambia to his country of origin,” reads a statement issued by the UN agency Thursday morning.

“A senior Zimbabwean politician expressed the intention to seek asylum in Zambia at the border yesterday. It is reported that the authorities handed him over to his country of origin today despite a court order to the contrary.

“Refoulement or forcibly returning refugees and asylum-seekers to their country of origin is a serious violation of international refugee law. UNHCR calls on Zambia to investigate this reported incident urgently.”

Biti has been in hiding since police last week announced they were keen on questioning the firebrand politician and lawyer over the violence that broke out in central Harare last week Wednesday.

The violence was linked to MDC Alliance supporters who angrily accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of rigging the July 30 election against their party.

Six were gunned down by the military in a widely condemned state reaction to public disturbances.

Meanwhile, Biti was this Thursday set to appear before a Harare magistrate’s court facing charges related to inciting public violence.