THE United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has condemned Zambia’s move to hand over one of MDC Alliance leaders Tendai Biti to Zimbabwean security after turning down his application for asylum.
Mr Biti, sought by Zimbabwean police over allegations of inciting violence that rocked Harare last Wednesday among other charges, on Wednesday fled to Zambia seeking asylum on the grounds of alleged State persecution.
The Zambian authorities however, dismissed Biti’s application arguing that it lacked merit before making arrangements to repatriate him back to Zimbabwe.
Efforts by lawyers in Zambia to block Biti’s repatriation hit a brick hall after Zambian security agencies ignored a court order interdicting the opposition leader’s return to Zimbabwe.
“UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is gravely concerned about reports of the forced return of a Zimbabwean asylum-seeker by Zambia to his country of origin.
A senior Zimbabwean politician expressed the intention to seek asylum in Zambia at the border yesterday. It is reported that the authorities handed him over to his country of origin today despite a court order to the contrary,” said the UN Agency in a statement.
“Refoulement or forcibly returning refugees and asylum-seekers to their country of origin is a serious violation of international refugee law. UNHCR calls on Zambia to investigate this reported incident urgently.”