» Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Asked to confirm reports that the Government was softening its stance towards failed asylum seekers from Zimbabwe and that the deportation of some individuals was being postponed, the PMOS said that as we had made clear from the outset, individual cases should be judged on an individual basis. Obviously we took threats that were made against people into account. Equally, it was a fact of life that people had abused the system in the past by pretending to be Zimbabweans. That too had to be taken into account. Asked if the deportation of a Zimbabwean had failed to go ahead yesterday as a result of the Government’s new stance, the PMOS declined to comment on individual cases. He underlined that the policy of dealing with people on a case-by-case basis had not changed. Asked when deportations to Zimbabwe were expected to resume, the PMOS said that he had no intention of giving a running commentary on individual cases. Pressed as to whether the Times had been right to report today that immigration officers had been ordered to halt deportations to Zimbabwe, the PMOS underlined that we had not introduced a blanket ban on removals to Zimbabwe and that our policy had not changed, nor would it. Questioned as to whether a policy of temporary suspension of removals could be put in place until the matter was resolved, the PMOS said that it was a question of being able to strike the right balance. On the one hand it was important to ensure that cases were assessed on an individual basis, including taking seriously any threats which had been made. On the other hand, it was important not to send the wrong signal to would-be fraudulent asylum seekers, which would return us to the days when there had been a clear abuse of our asylum system. We would not allow that to happen.

Asked for a reaction to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s comments this morning, the PMOS said that of course it was important to take into account any threats which were made against people. Indeed, in the fifteen months to March 2005, we had granted asylum or discretionary leave at initial decision to 270 Zimbabweans whom we believed belonged to that category. However, we also believed that a blanket ban on removals would be wrong because of the signal it would send to future fraudulent asylum seekers. This approach had been agreed with the MDC when we had had first started forced removals to Zimbabwe.

Asked if the Prime Minister was hoping to garner support at the G8 summit in Gleneagles to put pressure on the African Union to take a more serious stand against Zimbabwe – following his comment yesterday that the UK did not have enough support to do so at the UN, the PMOS said that the UN Secretary General had sent a member of the African Commission to Zimbabwe. She would report in her own time, and no doubt her findings would influence future discussions. In the meantime, however, it would be surprising if the issue of Zimbabwe was not mentioned at the G8 summit next week.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. please help the so called failled asylum seekers

    Comment by Themba — 13 Oct 2005 on 1:00 pm | Link
  2. please help the so called failled asylum seekers

    Comment by Themba — 13 Oct 2005 on 1:04 pm | Link

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