HC Deb 13 February 2004 vol 418 cc261-5W
Mr. Malins

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people sought asylum from Zimbabwe in the last 12 months; how many applications(a) succeeded and (b) failed; how many failed applicants have been removed; and how many were white Zimbabwean farmers in each case. [154041]

Beverley Hughes

[holding answer 1 February 2004]: The following tables show the number of asylum applications, initial decisions and appeal outcomes between October 2002 and September 2003 and the number of removals between October 2002 and June 2003, the latest published figures available, for nationals of Zimbabwe. Initial decisions do not necessarily relate to applications made in the same period. Appeals do not necessarily relate to refusals of grants of asylum, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave made in the same period. Removals do not necessarily relate to initial decisions or appeal outcomes made in the same period.

Information on the ethnic origin or occupation of asylum applicants is unavailable. The requested information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by examination of individual case records.

Information on asylum applications, initial decisions on asylum applications, appeal outcomes and removals by nationality is published in quarterly web pages and in the annual statistical bulletin Asylum Statistics United Kingdom, available from the Home Office website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html. The next quarterly publication, covering the fourth quarter of 2003 and provisional full year data, will be published on 24 February.

Outcome of appeals1,2determined by adjudicators of the Immigration Appellate Authority ,excluding dependants ,October 2002 to September 2003, nationals of Zimbabwe
Number of principal appellants
Appeals determined by adjudicators2
Allowed Dismissed Withdrawn
Zimbabwe Total Total As percentage of determined Total As percentage of determined Total As percentage of determined
October 285 105 37 160 57 20 7
November 255 90 35 150 59 15 6
December 265 100 38 155 59 5 3
January February 300 85 28 205 68 15 4
February 205 70 34 125 60 10 5
March 310 100 32 195 63 15 6
April 380 115 31 250 66 10 3
May 405 115 29 265 65 25 6
June 315 95 30 205 64 20 6
July 405 145 36 245 60 15 4
August 305 70 23 220 72 15 5
September 400 105 26 280 70 15 4
October 2002 to September 2003 total 3,830 1,195 31 2,450 64 185 5
1 Provisional figures rounded to nearest 5 (except percentages). Figures may not add up due to independent rounding. Data on appeal outcomes by nationality in this table are derived from electronic sources.
2 Figures include cases withdrawn by the Home Office, as well as the appellant.

Removal and voluntary1 departure of principal asylum applicant(excluding dependants):October 2002 to 20032,3,4
Zimbabwe Number
October 10
November 10
December 10
January *
February 5
March 10
April 5
May 5
June 5
Total 55
1 Includes persons departing "voluntarily" after enforcement action had been initiated against them, persons leaving under assisted voluntary return programmes run by the International Organisation for Migration, and removals on safe third country grounds.
2 Figures rounded to the nearest five with * denoting 1 or 2 and may not sum to total due to rounding.
3 Data have been estimated due to data quality issues.
4 Provisional figures.

Mr. Malins

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on the removal of failed asylum seekers from Zimbabwe; and if he will make a statement. [154042]

Beverley Hughes

[holding answer 10 February 2004]: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced in January 2002 a suspension of removals of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe. This was in response to concerns about the serious deterioration in the situation in Zimbabwe in the build-up to the presidential election held in March that year. We did not, at that time, regard it as unsafe to return failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe, but in view of the rapidly changing conditions we considered that it would be appropriate not to enforce returns.

The Government's position is, as it has been since January 2002, that each asylum (and human rights) claim made by a Zimbabwean national will be considered on its individual merits in accordance with our obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Each application is considered against the background of the latest available country information including that obtained from and through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

We do of course recognise that conditions in Zimbabwe are such that there are individuals who are able to demonstrate a need for international protection. Where they meet the definition of a refugee in the 1951 convention, asylum is granted. There may also be individuals whose circumstances make them particularly vulnerable and who would engage our obligations under the ECHR. Where this is the case these individuals will be granted humanitarian protection or discretionary leave.

In the first nine months of last year, we granted asylum to 755 Zimbabweans and granted other forms of protection to 30 others. These statistics show that we are giving protection to the significant number of people who are found to be in need of it.

If an application is refused, there will be a right of appeal to the independent appellate authorities against that decision. Should a claim be refused and any appeal be unsuccessful that means that, for that individual, return to Zimbabwe would be safe. That is why we consider it reasonable to expect an individual in that position to leave voluntarily.

However, although it would be safe for failed asylum seekers to return to Zimbabwe, our view at present is that in the wider context of the Government's position on Zimbabwe, it would be inappropriate forcibly to return them at this time. The exceptions we would make to that policy are in cases where a failed asylum seeker had a serious criminal record or their presence in the United Kingdom was not otherwise conducive to the public good. In such circumstances enforced return to Zimbabwe would be considered by Ministers on a case by case basis.

The policy remains under continuous review.

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