Refugees, asylum seekers appeal High Court ruling on their return to Dzaleka

Refugees and asylum seekers residing outside Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa have appealed against a High Court ruling, which upheld the government’s decision to relocate them to the camp.

High Court Judge Mandala Mambulasa on August 12, 2022, set aside a stay order and discharged an appeal for judicial review in a case in which the refugees and asylum seekers were Malawi Government’s decision to relocate the camp.

In his ruling, Mambulasa observed that those who moved the court on the same had no locus standi or capacity to bring an action in a court.

Refugees at the overcrowded Dzaleka camp

He said exhibits before the court show that the first claimant, Abdul Nahimana, is an illegal immigrant from Burundi while the second claimant, Samuel Mkumbira, who is from Rwanda, duly acquired the citizenship of this country, as such, they have no sufficient interest in the matter.

Reads the ruling in part: “The government notice that is being disputed herein and which is the subject matter of this proceeding is clear. It is addressed to asylum seekers and refugees. The first claimant is neither of the two.

“The second claimant exhibited a Malawi citizenship identity card that was duly issued to him by the National Registration Bureau and yet he claimed to be an asylum seeker. Technically, and subject to verification by the defendant how he acquired the Malawi citizenship identity card, that exhibit alone, takes the second claimant out of the purview of the present proceeding.”

Dissatisfied with this ruling, the refugees and asylum seekers have instructed their lawyer to apply for a court order stopping the implementation of the ruling until a judicial review is heard.

Earlier, private practice lawyer Cassius Chidothe said Mambulasa made the judgement based on technical grounds, saying it did not decide the issue substantively on whether government’s decision was correct or not.

In April last year, government gave refugees and asylum seekers, who left the camp and were living in rural areas, to return to Dzaleka Refugee Camp in 14 days or face deportation.

On June 9 2021, the court granted the refugees permission to apply for judicial review and stayed the government’s decision.

Dzaleka Refugee Camp holds about 52 678 refugees and asylum seekers.

According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the camp receives an average of 300 new arrivals per month, the majority of whom (62 percent) are from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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