The Most Recent Decision for Zimbabwean Asylum seekers in the UK

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
17 March 2011

 EM and Others (Returnees) Zimbabwe CG[2011] UKUT 98 (IAC)

This is the Determination of the Upper Tribunal in which the Immigration Judges considered the situation in Zimbabwe in terms of the current political position and related protection issues, in order to give country guidance 2 years after the Determination in the case of RN (Returnees) Zimbabwe CG [2008] UKAIT.  The Court did this in the context of remaking the decisions in the case for Zimbabwean applicants for asylum.  The issue in this case is whether the circumstances in Zimbabwe are such that there is a reasonable degree of likelihood that a person who has no ZANU-PF connections will be at risk on return to his or her home area by reason of a perception of disloyalty or an inability to demonstrate loyalty.

Conclusions:

  1. As a general matter there is significantly less politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe, compared with the situation considered by the court in RN.  In particular, the evidence does not show that, as a general matter, the return of a failed asylum seeker from the UK, having no significant MDC profile, would result in that person facing a real risk of having to demonstrate loyalty to the ZANU-PF.
  2. The position is likely to be otherwise in the case of a person without ZANU-PF connections, returning from the UK after a significant absence to a rural area of Zimbabwe other than Matabeleland North or Matabeleland South. Such a person will find it difficult to avoid adverse attention, amounting to serious ill treatment, from ZANU-PF authority figures and those they control.
  3. The situation is not uniform across the relevant rural areas and there may be reasons why a particular individual, although at first sight appearing to fall within the category above, in reality does not for example, evidence might disclose that in the whole village ZANU-PF power structure are weak or absent.
  4. A returnee to Harare will in general face no significant difficulties, if going to a low-density or medium-density area. Whilst the socio-economic situation in high-density areas is more challenging, in general a person without ZANU-PF connections will not face significant problems there (including a “loyalty test”), unless he or she has a significant MDC profile, which might cause him or her to feature on a list of those targeted for harassment, or would otherwise engaged in political activities likely to attract the adverse attention of ZANU-PF.
  5. The issue of what is a person’s home for the purposes of internal relocation is to be decided as a matter of fact and is not necessarily to be determined by reference to the place a person from  Zimbabwe regards as his or her rural homeland.  As a general matter, it is unlikely that a person with a well founded fear of persecution in a major urban centre such as Harare will have a viable internal relocation alternative to a rural area in the eastern provinces.  Internal relocation from a rural area to Harare  or to Bullawayo is in general more realistic but the social economic circumstances in which persons are reasonably likely to find themselves will need to be considered, in order to determine whether it would be unreasonable to unduly harsh to expect them to relocate.
  6. Finally, guidance was given on the assessment of the private and family life of a Zimbabwean national present in the United Kingdom for over 11 years with children born and/or resident most of their lives in the United Kingdom.
  7. In the absence of countervailing factors, residence of over 7 years with children well-integrated into the educational system in the United Kingdom, is an indicator that the welfare of the child favours regularisation of the status of mother and children.

DANIELLE COHEN ADVISES THAT ACTION TO BE TAKEN BY READERS OF THE  ZIMBABWEAN TO ASK THEIR SOLICITORS TO REVIEW THEIR CASES IN LIGHT OF THESE GUIDELINES TO SEE IF THEY COULD BENEFIT FROM THE NEW DECISION AND IF THEY HAVE AN ASYLUM APPLICATION PENDING THEN TO ADD FURTHER PERSUASIVE ARGUMENTS TO THE HOME OFFICE.

Danielle Cohen Immigration Solicitors