A Zimbabwean activist Josephine Chari faces deportation from Britain where she has been involved in anti-deportation activities of Zimbabweans whose applications for asylum failed.
Chari, who is being held by immigration authorities, was set to be deported last night, and is scheduled to arrive in the country today.
British immigration officials reportedly booked for her to fly out of the UK on a Kenya Airways flight to Harare via Nairobi.
Acting British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Tim Cole told NewsDay: “The British Embassy does not comment on individual asylum cases. However, all failed asylum seeker cases have been considered carefully by the courts. Where someone has been found not to need international protection, we expect them to leave voluntarily.
“For those who choose not to do so, the UK Border Agency will seek to enforce their departure.”
But, according to Zimbabwe Vigil coordinator Rose Benton, Chari’s safety was not guaranteed in Zimbabwe.
Benton said the decision was “short-sighted, given the increasing violence, harassment and intimidation” facing activists in Zimbabwe.
“We don’t believe that failed asylum seekers should be removed until the situation is safe for opponents of (President) Robert Mugabe. Josephine is being deported when there are no guarantees of her safety, particularly as she is a person who has been visible as a Vigil activist,” Benton told the media in the UK.
“This incident shows that activism in the UK and attendance at the Vigil increases the risk of being known by the forces within Zimbabwe that still perpetrate violence against (President) Mugabe opponents. We are a high-profile protest that has been under constant surveillance by intelligence operatives of the regime.”
The Vigil said Zimbabwean failed asylum seekers should not be removed until the situation in Zimbabwe was safe for perceived opponents of President Mugabe.
“As it is, there are constant reports of violence and human rights abuses from Zimbabwe,” the organisation said.
The Vigil is an organisation comprising Zimbabweans based in the UK advocating for democracy in their motherland and the rights of Zimbabweans living in the former colonial power.