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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 August 2005, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Zimbabwe removals still on hold
Anti-Mugabe protester outside Zimbabwe Embassy, London
Refugees say they could be persecuted in Zimbabwe
Deportations to Zimbabwe are to remain on hold after asylum seekers' cases were adjourned at the High Court.

Mr Justice Collins "stayed" the cases while the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) looks at fresh evidence of the situation in Zimbabwe.

Some refugees say they are in danger of being ill-treated by Robert Mugabe's regime, if they were returned, because they tried to claim asylum in the UK.

Mr Mugabe has always denied human rights abuses.

The AIT will now hear one test case to set out definitive guidance.

The Home Office said the cases were adjourned to allow "sufficient time to give full and careful consideration to additional material presented by the Refugee Legal Centre".

A spokeswoman said the test case would "set out authoritative and updated country guidance on conditions in Zimbabwe as they relate to asylum claimants".

However, the Home Office policy of returning failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe "has not changed" but decisions will be deferred until the tribunal ruling.

Hunger strikes

Scores of Zimbabweans had been on hunger strike before deportations were suspended last month.

A group of asylum seekers have staged an all-night vigil outside the High Court to draw attention to the case.

Tim Finch of the Refugee Council welcomed Mr Justice Collins' decision, saying it meant that nobody would face removal to Zimbabwe until October at the earliest.

He said asylum seekers had been living in fear of being deported within hours of a decision in favour of the Home Office.

"This is great news for Zimbabwean refugees and all of us who've campaigned with them to stop the inhumane policy of returning people to Mugabe's murderous regime."

In July, the government suspended removing failed asylum seekers until the High Court ruled on their legality.

It followed comments by Mr Justice Collins, who appealed to Home Secretary Charles Clarke to block all deportations until the test cases had taken place.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and former Labour leader Lord Kinnock are among those who have criticised the government over deportations to Zimbabwe.

Dr Williams said it was "deeply immoral" to send asylum seekers back to Zimbabwe where they could face persecution.

Asylum seekers at Hammondsport detention centre at Heathrow and Halewood in Bedfordshire went on hunger strike in June to highlight their situation.

The action is being taken by one Zimbabwean on behalf of other failed asylum seekers held at detention centres around the country.

Halt Zimbabwe removals says judge
06 Jul 05 |  UK Politics
UK to continue Zimbabwe returns
27 Jun 05 |  UK Politics

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