Northern Ireland news

A Zimbabwean man who fled the country following the alleged politically-motivated killing of his father wins legal battle to stay in Northern Ireland

The High Court in Belfast

A ZIMBABWEAN man who fled the country following the alleged politically-motivated killing of his father has won a High Court case in his fight to remain in Northern Ireland.

The 35-year-old, who cannot be identified, says he fears persecution if returned because of his family's links to the country's opposition party, the Movement for Demoratic Change (MDC).

He was granted a judicial review over claims the Home Office unlawfully refused to re-examine his failed asylum application after submitting further information about him and his three children.

The man, referred to as JM4, stated that arrived in Belfast with his family in December 2013 after travelling from South Africa to Dublin on a false passport.

He sought asylum on the basis of connections to the MDC.

JM4 claimed his father was shot dead by state agents because of his membership of the party, and that he was told his own life was also at risk immediately before he fled Zimbabwe.

In 2014 his asylum claim to the Home Office was turned down.

Officials decided it was tenuous to claim any anti-regime political opinion from his father's actions could also be attributed to him.

Further documents were submitted in a bid to have the application reconsidered due to JM4's fears of persecution on return to Zimbabwe.

But in October 2018 the authorities expressed scepticism about their authenticity.

Finding no exceptional circumstances to warrant leave to remain in the UK, it was also decided that JM4's three children were young enough to adapt back to life in Zimbabwe.

He launched a judicial review challenge, claiming a failure to apply the correct legal test and breaches of his human rights.

Identifying a breach of the Home Office's duties, Mr Justice McCloskey also held: "The evidence previously considered and the best interests assessment previously made were both of considerable vintage, over four years old, at the time of the impugned decision.

"Four years is a long period in the life of every child."

He confirmed: "The most suitable remedy is an order quashing the impugned decision of the Secretary of State."

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