A Zimbabwean woman Chipo Hazel Tafirenyika, was deported from the UK last Thursday as the Border Agency intensifies efforts to remove illegal Zimbabweans ahead of next year’s elections.
Chipo claimed that she was threatened with being drugged if she caused any trouble. She obliged and was put on a plane.
Campaigners are worried that many Zimbabwean deportees from the UK are being drugged or threatened with sedation to make sure they leave the UK.
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. Women have been known to strip naked. Some immigration lawyers have encouraged this ploy.
“This is unbelievable,” Ephraim Tapa a former trade union leader who fled Zimbabwe said. “This heavy-handed approach is a flagrant breach of human rights.”
Tapa, a founder member of the Vigil, said 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.
The Zimbabwe Vigil said it was aware of incidents when security guards employed by the UK Border Agency have manhandled deportees to keep them quiet, causing injuries. One woman who succeeded in being taken off a flight came to the Vigil still limping several months after such an incident.
The Zimbabwe Association said Zimbabweans threatened with deportation must act.
“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.”