Monday, 22 July 2019

Mental Health and the Asylum Process

African community the most, yet we hardly talk about it. Having a mental health condition or illness can be seen as a weakness or a failure, so the tendency is to hide it until it is maybe too late for early intervention.

One of the main causes of mental breakdowns or stress related mental illness now, is the limbo or the unknown way we are living because of the immigration issues or statuses we have. This hostile environment, has had numerous results, some intentional and others, almost expected, with those affected definitely predicted.

Some of us have been here in the UK for 10 years or more, by this time we are neither British nor Zimbabwean, thus the fear of this institutionally manufactured instability and precarious existence has caused many to fall mentally unwell.

The fear that I have is that I don’t have any ties of belonging in Zimbabwe anymore and the fact that the UK, is now my home but not really home is unnerving.  The loneliness that comes with this actuality and feeling is unbearable at times, especially as most of our loved ones have passed away and we could not get the expected and necessary closure of burying a parent, a child or for some, children or siblings, which, is never easy mentally no matter ones situation.

For some, the hope of settling down with a loved one and starting a family is fading away with age.  The body clock of a Woman tends to tick rather quickly in the wrong way, and from a tender age maturity is thrust upon by life’s actualities and certainties.

The dread and uncertainty, that one gets, as one hears from peers and reads, that the situation in Zimbabwe is getting worse and the fear that today, yes today, leads to one asking.  “If one is to be unjustly deported to Zimbabwe, will one survive?”  The obvious answer is, NO!  For most of us, this is the case, however, when I am barely living here as things stand, it’s mentally crippling.

It’s scary the fact that most of us cannot seek help for fear of being judged, or, misunderstood.  The fear of deportation is mind numbingly debilitating.  Thus, this makes it (the mental health) worse and most of us are so lonely and feel so cast out, as we lose hope and are left in this state of known, unknown, unknowns, both by the British immigration system and by the brutal, unfair Zimbabwean Government.  With nowhere to belong and nowhere to call home, let us speak up, let us get up and get the help we need.  Let them know how this Limbo is not just crippling us but is a breach of our human rights.

By Lindsey Zaranyika

Friday, 24 May 2019

UK Allows Interviews by their Persecutors

My name is Bigboy Sibanda, D.O.B 28 January 1978, Home Office ref: S1142946 and I am a prominent activist, civil rights defender and an effective defender of Zimbabwe human rights in the UK.

I am totally appalled and heartbroken by illegal conduct by the Home Office for inviting Zimbabwean Officials to conduct interviews or interrogate Zimbabwean Asylum Seekers who fled political persecution from Zimbabwe. The Home Office fails again to foresee policy is terrible and wrong. It is irresponsible and a huge error by the Home Office to enlist the help of the agents of persecutors (Zimbabwean Officials) to interview the subjects (people) who fled them in the first place. This is illegal and is totally wrong according to Geneva Convention 1951 and this act is a totally gross violation of human rights of asylum seekers.

I was personally interrogated by 4 Zimbabwean officials on the 20th of June 2018 at Brook House detention in Gatwick. They had a file on me on the table. I saw my full name and date of birth on it and the file had my picture. It was frightening to have them visit me as I had no knowledge of it at all. Two of them spoke in Shona and the other two spoke in Ndebele.

They weren't coming forth with the truth as to why they visited to interview me. They said they were coming from Russia now in the UK conducting a census or a count on how many Zimbabweans are detained in the UK and the world at large and that they were heading for Canada next to do the same. They said they were there to help us and I asked “how?” they had no answer. They asked where I was born, my family and which school did I attend both Primary and Secondary. When I refused to give them any information they had the audacity to tell me I came to this country and lied about my asylum claim. They asked me to sign a form and I refused. I was left questioning what they were talking about exactly.

With me at Brook House removal Centre who had the same interviews were Mr T Nyamukondiwa, Derrick Mwanza, Lameck Sibanda, James and two other fellow Zimbabweans. Since these Zim Officials said they came from the Embassy when we had finished the interviews on the exercise yard we called the Zimbabwean Embassy and asked them if they sent anyone to conduct interviews. The Embassy denied having knowledge of it and stated that “The policy says that you have to come to the Embassy and be interviewed personally to obtain a travel document. It was terrifying because by then we thinking they could be CIOs
Brooke House where Asylum Seekers and Criminals are mixed

This was followed by strange emails that looked threatening to me a couple of months later. I kept the emails.

I have written to Honourable Members of Parliament that this breaches the data protection act, on the border-immigration-citizenship-privacy-information-notice, It says on page 5 “Please note: we will not share any of your information with authorities in your country of origin if this would put you or your family at risk” If my life wasn't in danger I would not have claimed asylum in the UK.

This illegal practice by the Home Office clearly shows that they have not learnt anything from the Windrush Scandal. It is an unquestionable proof of incompetence and gross failure to effectively discharge its fiduciary role as an entity. It also enhances the chances of grave danger for Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the UK. It is reckless, irresponsible and undermines the basic human rights protection and data protection.

I am demanding solid and meaningful answers regarding this awful practice going on about Zimbabwean Asylum Seekers in the UK by the Home Office.

Yours Human Rights Campaigner
Bigboy Sibanda

War Criminal favoured by UK Establishment

Accused of War Crimes, would struggle to become a Taxi driver in the USA, UK and Europe, under sanctions in the U.K.

Yet the U.K., Home Office (HO) which is a ministerial department of Her Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom, responsible for immigration, security and law and order. As such it is responsible for policing in England and Wales, fire and rescue services in England, and visas and immigration and the Security Service (MI5). 

The same HO is happy to parley with the one called "The Crocodile".  The new leader and hard man dictator of Zimbabwe.  The HO is putting into his "protection", people who have expressed ill feeling towards the Crocodile and his Cronies.
On 19th July 2018 We petitioned the UK Government

"Oh, he is not that bad," the HO says.  "He can be responsible for people's lives.  Simple reassurance is enough."  The same type of reassurances that were sought from the former leader of Libya (Gaddafi) or the infamous current leader of Syria (Assad). 

One might forgive some of the politicians as they could sometimes change portfolios and Ministerial briefs within a short space of time (The Right Honourable Amber Rudd).  However sometimes they do stay within the same ministry for half a decade or more, thus they get to know and understand the laws, historical contexts of the implementation of the laws, the impact on people's lives of laws passed and the actual implications on the wider public of the decisions not made and made.

The same politicians cannot be taken to task individually nor severally for decisions made whilst in office no matter the consequences even if there is loss of life as a direct result of actions or inactions, directly or indirectly.

One can excuse the politicians sometimes, however, the civil servants who work for the HO are meant to be professionals in the know.  They are meant to have teams, that actually have team meetings to discuss certain matters (legal or otherwise) and cases, to ensure that their departments are always acting within the bounds of the law, even when taking instructions from politicians, but especially when dealing with states that have been described as human rights free zones by members from all political parties and independents, who sit both in the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

The return of people who are clearly against ZANU PF and it's proxies to Zimbabwe, via the interviews held jointly by the HO and the Zimbabwean Embassy, on failed asylum seekers or those without leave to remain, to meet the numbers for targets set by politicians, leaves one asking the question, do lives matter more than targets or, do targets matter more than lives?

The numbers who have disappeared when deported to just Libya, Syria, Sudan and Iraq are astonishing, yet today, the same civil servants and the same department of HO insists the assurances are credible.

Are there any repercussions on their actions if somehow someone disappears, gets tortured, raped or killed in a country that has to this day not ratified UN treaties and covenants against torture and disappearances? 

If former UK Armed Forces service men, acting in a volatile theatre, dodging actual bullets, can face the courts for their actions, in the heat of the moment or not, then the question of whether or not Civil Servants can, or should also face the law, for their actions or inactions has to be debated fully.

The public good protection is an argument set out in cases, including at Den Haag.  Light as it my be for someone who has not committed a crime for over 10 years or ever, one wonders what crime they would be committing if they refused to comply with the Zimbabwean Authorities whilst they are in the UK and failed on their Asylum claim. 

Considering the fact that as recently as the week of the Royal baby Prince Charlie's birth, reports from whistle blowers in the HO were leaked to the tabloid press.  The reports suggested that some people were being trained on how to refuse claims, or being given responsibility of people's futures after less than 1 weeks training, by an individual who also had been with the HO for less than 2 months. 

Will this lack of cooperation be used as an excuse for immediate  detention and eventual deportation/removal without the right to a fair trial and an appeal, where the HO will be represented by a trained Barrister and QC, but the defendant will be on their own and without time to collect evidence?

To be known for being able to deport the likes of Abu Hamza and other terrorists is commendable, however to be known for being able to deport those fleeing the brutality of a dictator who is under UK Sanctions, one might say is more than legally and morally questionable.

Written by a ZHRO Member