3 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Zim Activists Urge UK Border Agency to Probe 'Sedation' Reports

Zimbabwean human rights activists in the UK have urged the government body responsible for immigration there, to probe reports that people are being drugged during deportation.

According to the London based pressure group the Zimbabwe Vigil, there are allegations that some Zimbabwean deportees from the UK are being drugged or threatened with sedation by security details at the UK Border Agency (UKBA) "to ensure they do not kick up a fuss when put on a plane home."

Vigil coordinator Rose Benton told SW Radio Africa on Monday that many activists, when faced with deportation, have resorted to delaying tactics to prevent being removed from the UK. She explained how "a number of airline pilots have refused to take off when failed asylum seekers have created a scene on board to draw attention to their plight."

Vigil founder and former Zim trade union leader Ephraim Tapa has since raised concern that deportees are being threatened with sedation. Tapa said that over the weekend he'd been informed by relatives or friends of four people who were said to have been injected with sedatives or threatened with sedation to facilitate their deportation.

Benton said these claims are yet to be verified, but a recent incident has supported the validity of such comments. She explained how Vigil supporter Chipo Hazel Tafirenyika, who was deported last Thursday night, reported that UKBA security guards threatened her with sedation if she caused any trouble when she was put on the plane.

"We expect that there should be some kind of investigation, and if anything people should be approaching their MPs. We would hope that the Home Office gives their position on the situation," Benton said.

Meanwhile the UK based Zimbabwe Association, which deals with immigration and deportation issues of Zimbabwean nationals, has issued the following information for asylum seekers:

Information for asylum seekers from the Zimbabwe Association (ZA)

If you get detained (and do not have a legal representative) put your name down for an appointment with a legal aid lawyer as soon as possible. There will be a booking system, probably in the detention centre library. Each detention centre has legal aid firms contracted to provide legal help. These are objective legal professionals. If you are already using a legal aid lawyer when you are detained you should be allowed to continue with them. Using a private lawyer can be a problem because if relatives are not able to raise the money required the private lawyer will not be able to act for you and may drop your case at the last minute. (Applying for a Judicial Review is a very expensive business.)

If you are given an appointment with a legal aid lawyer that is after the date of your flight then tell the Immigration Officer and ask for an earlier date. Get them to prioritise your case.

If a legal aid lawyer says your case has no merit ask them to put their reasons in writing.

If you are not in detention don't just submit a fresh claim to try to protect yourself. You have to build up your case and prepare all possible documentation.

If possible:

Scan all your evidence. Put Reasons for Refusal letter in one document. Put Immigration Judge Determination in another document. Put Application for Fresh claim in another document. Put all supporting letters together in another document. Put all press stories in another document.

Keep a version of your evidence electronically and make sure that a trusted friend or relative can access and produce these documents if / when you are detained.

For further information please check the ZA website; www.zimbabweassociation.org.uk. There is a section on detention.

To contact this reporter email alex@swradioafrica.com or follow on Twitter

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