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Zimbabwe country guideline case allowed


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MDC logoThis news will be welcomed by Zimbabweans in the UK. The decision in the latest test case, RN (Returnees) Zimbabwe CG [2008] UKAIT 00083 is now doing the rounds with immigration lawyers and will no doubt be properly published in due course on the AIT website. (UPDATE: see here). It is a long decision and I will only quote from three of the final paragraphs to give a flavour of the decision:

258. The evidence establishes clearly that those at risk on return to Zimbabwe on account of imputed political opinion are no longer restricted to those who are perceived to be members or supporters of the MDC but include anyone who is unable to demonstrate support for or loyalty to the regime or Zanu-PF. To that extent the country guidance in HS is no longer to be followed.

259. The fact of having lived in the United Kingdom for a significant period of time and of having made an unsuccessful asylum claim are both matters capable of giving rise to an enhanced risk because, subject to what we have said at paragraph 242 to 246 above, such a person is in general reasonably likely to be assumed to be a supporter of the MDC and so, therefore, someone who is unlikely to vote for or support the ruling party, unless he is able to demonstrate the loyalty to Zanu-PF or other alignment with the regime that would negate such an assumption.

260. The attempt by the regime to identify and suppress its opponents has moved from the individual to the collective. Thus, a person who returns to a home in an area where the MDC made inroads into the Zanu-PF vote at this year’s elections faces an enhanced risk as whole communities are being punished for the outcome in an attempt to change the political landscape for the future and to eliminate the MDC support base.

Teachers and ex-teachers are singled out by the tribunal as being particularly at risk, and the tribunal goes on to recognise that there is a power-sharing arrangement now in place but it is too soon to say whether this will alleviate the risks.

The Home Office has been fighting this litigation tooth and nail in contravention of its obligations under the Refugee Convention, and it would be surprising if the Home Office did not choose to appeal. The view of the Home Office seems to have been (a) there was no risk on return on the basis of perceived disloyalty to the regime and (b) in any event we aren’t removing so what is the fuss about? The Home Office is entitled to take the view there is no risk, although most would say that there was very strong evidence that there was in fact a risk, but I would say that (b) contravenes international obligations. A refugee should be recognised as a refugee and given status. A similar thing happened with Kosovars a few years ago during the conflict there, where the Home Office routinely granted Exceptional Leave to Remain but not refugee status. This led to all kinds of problems later on and it deprived those concerns of their entitlements under international law.

What next for Zimbabwean claims? Fresh claims can be made by those who have no outstanding claims or appeals and upcoming appeals will be allowed on the basis of RN. Will the Home Office appeal? Probably. Will there be another CG case in a few months? Yes. Will the Home Office attempt to appeal allowed cases? Yes. Will the Home Office refuse to issue status papers until the new county guideline appeal is determined? I wouldn’t be surprised, but any delay once the Home Office’s appeal rights are exhausted can be challenged through judicial review.

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The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.


12 Responses

  1. Several cases have been at the High Court/Admistrative Court since 2005.My own case was allowed by an immigration judge and later a senior immigration judge ruled that there were no errors of law in the earlier decision by the immigration.The Home Office appealed to the High Court in 2006 and the High court ever since will not decide on my case and others.I hope the high court will not say they are waiting for another country guidance case,wht they have been diong from 2006.I am praying that the High court will understand that i and others are human and wish to live a normal life.Something denied us since the immigration judges allowed our cases way back in 2005.

  2. I agree with you my case is the same, my case was allowed in 2006 and since then in the same year a senior immigration judge said there was no error of law. the home office has been holding my papers since. It really sucks what they are doing. They are treating us like animals. Seeking refugee is not a crime, this government has made us suffer as if we are criminals. I hope our country will get better and we can go and rebuilt. They say one thing and do the other. I am so fed up now. Pasi nevadzvanyiriri.

  3. hie free movement

    my case is legacy case waiting decision by the bia .now that rn zimbabwe has been a success what should i do now

  4. wait for the HO to make a decision first and if it is negative use RN to challenge the decision

  5. they are still refusing to give people status. my case was allowed but they still refuse to honour the court. I am very sad sad

  6. Joe,
    Ramba waka shinga hama! I’m in the same boat as yourself and I found writing to my MP helped a lot to speed up the process. Maybe you’ve already tried this, regardless with view to RN I think it’s worth trying. “mwana asingacheme ano fira mumbereko”

  7. l was also allowed in 2005 under AA case the HOME OFFICE APPEALED BUT THEY WERE REFUSED BY THE SENIOUR JUDGE THAT THERE WAS NO ERROR OF LAW BUT THEY DECIDED TO APPEAL MORE FUTHER TO HIGH COURT NOW SUCH PEOPLE LIKE ME DO WE HAVE A CHANCE TO BE GRANTED UNDER THIS NEW COUNTRY GUIDANCE CASE. cauz l suffered a lot to wait for a day that does not come though l get Nass money but l think lam in prison indrect

  8. now morgan has signed the deal, wat is gonna happen with us who still got pending cases,im a bit concerned they will send us back to bob

    1. I was at a ‘mega list’ of 20 Zimbabwean cases last week at Field House and the tribunal then indicated that it was far too early to say whether the deal would make any difference. If things in Zimbabwe do genuinely start to calm down, then there will no doubt be new country guidance. At the moment, it is too early to say. The Home Office is definitely dragging its heels, though, and it looks like they plan cynically to sit this out and wait until the situation improves before dealing with pending applications. Meanwhile, if your appeal is heard they are mostly being allowed, which should lead to a rapid grant of status by the Home Office. Some IJs are reported to be refusing to follow the RN case, though.