Asylum Seekers: Verification of Claims
I was mystified by Patricia Scotland’s answer to my question about the treatment of Darfurian asylum-seekers following the case of AH and others in the Court of Appeal on March 20-21, 2007. She claimed that it was subject to appeal, though more than two months have elapsed since the hearing. If an appeal had been lodged, she wouldn’t have gone into detail about the substance of the case, whereas she said it turned on whether it was legitimate to require an asylum seeker whose fear of return to his home are was reasonable, to relocate to another part of his country where his standard of living would be lower. In that regard, the comparison was between subsistence farming in Darfur and living in a camp or squatter settlement in Khartoum. It was not merely a simple comparison between standards of living, but whether the conditions in the supposed safe haven were so radically inferior as to make a reasonable existence impossible.
I asked David Triesman whether, in his discussions with President Mbeki, the Prime Minister had raised the vote by the Pan-African Parliament— by a majority of 149 to 20—to send a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe whether he thought that President Mbeki and the other leaders of SADC could make a significant move forward if they pressed the ZANU-PF regime to accept that mission. He replied that it was hard to know what would impress Mugabe, but the Prime Minister had told President Mbeki that:
“African governments should also hold other African governments to account. In Zimbabwe, decades of repression have forced up to one third of the country to flee”.
President Mbeki understood the UK’s position.