» Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Put to him that the expulsion of Zimbabwean’s to Zimbabwe had been called immoral by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the PMOS said that as we had said this morning, we obviously understood that there were concerns about individuals and the threat to them, which was precisely why in the 15 months to March this year, we granted asylum or discretionary leave at initial decision to 270 Zimbabweans. Equally however it was a fact that in the past people had applied, falsely claiming to be Zimbabweans. Therefore what we needed to do was assess each case on the individual merits, and we agreed that process with the MDC whenever we first applied it.

Asked if we would be reviewing our position in light of the recent outcry, the PMOS said that our policy hadn’t changed and it would not change. As we did with every other country, we based it on the merits of the individual case. There was no other country on which we had a blanket ban. Asked what the response to Rowan Williams was, the PMOS said that he was entitled to his view, but we had to deal with the facts. The facts were that where there were genuine concerns we had shown that we were prepared to grant asylum. Equally however the fact was that in the past people had abused the system and we were not going to send out the signal that people could do that and get away with it. Put to him that seemed like rough justice, the PMOS said it no it was not. It was careful consideration of the facts.

Asked if the Prime Minister was worried that this issue might overshadow the G8, the PMOS said that in terms of the G8, we had often made representations to African countries about Zimbabwe. We would continue to do so. However Zimbabwe was not Africa and it was only right that the experience of Zimbabwe should only be dealt with on its own merits. What that shouldn’t do was overshadow the genuine progress that had been made in those countries where there was real progress in terms of elections and in terms of governance and where there were real needs which could and should be met in a transparent and open way.

Asked if he was saying that if people came to this country, saying they were from Zimbabwe, the Government is saying that some of them might not be from Zimbabwe, and the Government didn’t want to send the message that anyone who came to the UK for asylum could claim to be from Zimbabwe as a way of getting asylum, the PMOS said we assessed each case on its individual merits. Asked why we were sending anybody back to Zimbabwe, the PMOS said the cases were made on an individual assessment made by the Home Office.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news

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