Warning: This post was published more than 10 years ago.
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When the Daily Mail starts trumpeting the cause of failed asylum seekers, it’s clear that something is seriously wrong. The issue at hand is the proposed deportation of a hundred failed asylum seekers from Zimbabwe, back to Robert Mugabe’s deplorable regime, where they will almost certainly be presumed to be British spies. They have been on hunger strike now for six days, in protest against their deportation. The Mail is against their deportation (quote from today’s Wrap):
Mail readers who are accustomed to the paper’s demands for a crackdown on asylum seekers may have to pinch themselves today. “FOR PITY’S SAKE LET THEM STAY,” splashes the paper. “How, in all conscience, can the Home Office deport more than 100 Zimbabweans to face torture at the hands of Mugabe’s evil regime?”
Three Zimbabweans involved in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change describe the torture they suffered under President Mugabe’s regime. The Mail wants to know why they are not allowed to remain in Britain while “hundreds of thousands of other would-be refugees” whose asylum applications have been refused are allowed to stay.
The difficulty here is that the asylum seekers are unable to prove that they personally are at risk of persecution. The political difficulty is that one can’t let one set of asylum seekers that don’t meet the necessary criteria stay, whilst deporting others in similar situations. Except, there have been special rules on Zimbabwe for a number of years now, preventing the deportation of failed asylum seekers. Up until the last few days, I wasn’t aware that this rule had been removed, and I can’t begin to understand why it has been changed: The situation in Zimbabwe is clearly not improving, so why remove the protection these people have been offered for so long?
Regular readers will know that I’m incredibly cynical, but is it going too far to question whether this rule was removed in order to improve the figures on deportation of failed asylum seekers in the run-up to a General Election? I have looked around quite a bit, and can’t find any other reason for the decision. But the Prime Minister’s press conference is just beginning – let’s hope that someone asks the pertinent question, and then we might know.