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UK judge halts deportations of rejected asylum applicants to DR Congo

[JURIST] A UK judge Thursday ordered British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith [official profile] to hold off deportations of failed asylum seekers to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [JURIST news archive] pending a determination by an Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) [official website] on whether the DRC is a safe destination. Ten rejected asylum seekers scheduled to be deported on August 30 filed suit against Smith, arguing that they face torture and rape by state officials if they return to the DRC. The AIT hearing is scheduled for September. The Guardian has more.

This is not the first time that the Home Secretary and the judiciary have clashed over asylum seekers. In April, the England and Wales Court of Appeals ruled [judgment text] that three Africans formerly living in the Darfur region of Sudan [JURIST news archives] could be granted asylum in the UK. The UK Secretary of State had initially denied asylum to the appellants, saying they could safely return to Khartoum without risk of persecution. The appellants alleged they would be in danger of persecution by the Janjaweed [PBS backgrounder], and that sending them back to Sudan would go against the rules of internal relocation.

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