So governments everywhere are becoming more and more eager to show off their deportation stats – France being a prime example, they had a goal for 2007 of 25,000 deportations. But in the UK the politicos like to talk tough as well, but to boost their stats they may be making some really really poor judgments.

Ministers are preparing to expel hundreds of failed asylum-seekers back to the brutal regime of Robert Mugabe, seriously undermining Gordon Brown’s publicly declared tough stance on Zimbabwe…

Letters sent by the Home Office to failed asylum-seekers last week inform the recipients that they are at “no general risk” in Zimbabwe and encourage them to leave the UK voluntarily…

News of the letter could prove embarrassing for the Prime Minister, who has made political capital out of a possible Zimbabwe cricket tour ban and refused to sit next to Mr Mugabe at an international summit. Gordon Brown now faces accusations of hypocrisy over his dealings with the African state.

As this article states later on, it seems that two parts of the government – the part that would actually have a clue as to the (very risky) conditions in Zimbabwe and the part that decides whether or not to send people there – are simply not communicating. Which makes me think this is probably more of a failure of bureaucracy than intentional dishonesty, but perhaps I’m just being too forgiving.

But the consequences of a drastic change of refugee policy would be clear – it would send a message of fear right to the heart of a populous that Mugabe is already trying to terrify, essentially it would help the tyrant. If people feel they have no where to go, if they see people being sent back (and maybe even killed) it plays into Mugabe’s hand. That’s a point I felt wasn’t made clearly enough in this article. They seemed mostly concerned with the perceived hipocrisy for Brown, and less about the role refugee/asylum seeking populations can play in the struggle against a regime. Seems sad to waste the lives of these people when they could instead be organized against a regime the government has gotten political capital out of opposing.

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