The test case of AA (Zimbabwe), mentioned in previous posts, is being dropped by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in favour of another case, called HS (Zimbabwe). This is apparently because the AIT did not want to have to deal with argument about what issues the Court of Appeal ordered should be re-argued.
The new test case has been listed for a one week hearing starting 23rd July 2007 and will deal with refugee status issues, Article 3 ECHR issues and will also consider risk of ill-treatment on return, humanitarian conditions in the country and what deterioration has occurred since last summer.
The HS case was actually one in which the Immigration Advisory Service were representing. The Refugee Legal Centre were the represetatives in the AA case. Given the at times unhealthy rivalry between the two organisations, both offshoots of the now defunct United Kingdom Immigrants’ Advice Service, this might have been significant, and I can’t help wondering whether this was deliberate on the part of the AIT. However, given the excellent work done by RLC on the AA case, IAS has very sensibly transferred the case to RLC, so the legal team remains the same: the indomitable Sonal Ghelani and extremely able Mark Henderson of Doughty Street Chambers.
In the meantime, it is rumoured that the Administrative Division of the High Court is staying all Zimbabwean matters until the outcome of the new test case.
Will the new test case be the last word, though? There’s very little chance of either side accepting the result, so an appeal is almost inevitable. The Home Office simply cannot, for political reasons, accept a class action by which all Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the UK become entitled to status. And the legal team for the appellants will always be able to find holes in a supposedly comprehensive decision by the AIT. The only thing that can bring this neverending litigation to an end is the fall of Robert Mugabe.