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Legal tender means only a third of UK flights are deported to Zimbabwe | Immigration and Asylum

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The controversial Interior Department deportation charter took off for Zimbabwe around 10:30 on Wednesday evening, with only about a third of the passengers on board, officials hoped to remove.

This is a mass deportation flight to Zimbabwe for many years and marks the start of the planned summer season of charter deportation to countries including Vietnam and Jamaica, which the Ministry of Interior is planning in the coming weeks.

The plane was supposed to deport about 50 people, but it is estimated that only 14 people were on board when it took off from Stansted. Dozens of escorts have been exposed to co-workers with Covid-19, presenting a series of issues with self-quarantine to the Ministry of Home Affairs until later this week. Interior Department officials confirmed the Covid-19 outbreak at Brook House near Gatwick on Tuesday evening. Some of the Zimbabweans in those detention centers were not removed due to outbreaks due to deportation.

Concerns about the safety of those returning from Zimbabwe, a country with poor human rights, have also raised legal issues. Some of the returnees have spent decades in England, have families here, and have been politically active against the Mugabe regime.

The Interior Ministry said many committed serious crimes, but in an interview with The Guardian, some committed less serious crimes, such as driving violations or working with counterfeit documents.

75 lawmakers in Zimbabwe signed a letter written by a group of party lawmakers, raising concerns that the political and human rights situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating.

In a letter to the Interior Minister, they wrote: The Zimbabwean government systematically oppresses political opponents, denies freedom of the press and commits grave human rights violations.

The plane threw itself into the net below on the second-floor landing at the Colnbrook Immigration Removal Center hours before takeoff of the two detainees due to boarding. They were considered unharmed and were not removed.

Attorney Duncan Lewis’ urgent out-of-hours high court challenge to halt the entire flight was unsuccessful However, Judge Steyn acknowledged that passengers who were interviewed face-to-face with Zimbabwean officials before being issued the emergency travel documents needed to enter Zimbabwe could be at risk upon return.

She made the order to keep anyone who brought the incident from boarding the plane, but left the others on the plane to make their own applications. Until news about the high court order was made public, it was impossible to deliver the order to everyone who could have benefited from it on the way to the plane with their cell phones confiscated.

Bella Sankey, director of the charity Detention Action, said: The high court’s groundbreaking intervention when the Ministry of Home Affairs allows the Zimbabwean government to question those seeking deportation correctly recognizes the real dangers of horrific human rights violations. But how terrifying is the fact that other people doing the same can’t get on the plane to hear about this ruling or use a precedent to prevent their own deportation.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Home Affairs said: Foreign criminals who abuse our hospitality must not question our decision to deport them. Any foreigner convicted of a crime and sentenced to imprisonment may be deported at the earliest opportunity.

Sources

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2/ https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/jul/22/legal-bids-mean-uk-deportation-flight-to-zimbabwe-takes-off-just-one-third-full

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