[ 29. Dec 2011 ]

'Unsafe Return' - the report on deportations to the DR Congo

No deportations to Congo - Demonstration in Nottingham, 28th of March 2007.

Unsafe Return. Refoulement of Congolese Asylum Seekers - A report on Congolese clients of Justice First who had been removed from the UK to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


"So they say to me, there, you went to a foreign country. You went and said that we don't respect human rights here. There, you accused us, that the government doesn't respect human rights, that we do, did things to you when you were detained, and that you were ill treated when you were in the country. And for having said that over there, here, on principle, we have to arrest you. Because there, you betrayed our country, you betrayed our government. So they arrested me, they took me. They took me after, after that, it was an interrogation of several hours."
Refused Congolese asylum seeker describing his post return arrest in DRC (Translation from French)

'Unsafe Return' details the post return experience of nine of the ten Justice First clients removed between 2006 and 2009. The tenth has made no contact since arriving in Kinshasa in 2008. A voluntary returnee cannot be traced by the International Organisation for Migration which arranged her return. She did not pick up her reintegration package or return to the IOM office in Kinshasa in 2010. The post return experience of six other returnees from West Yorkshire, Lancashire, Hull and the Southampton area is documented, also.

Returnees report imprisonment and ill treatment after they were removed from the United Kingdom. The UK has a responsibility under nationally ratified international and human rights law not to return to persecution those who have sought sanctuary in the UK. The Home Office maintains it does not monitor those asylum seekers it removes, as it only removes those for whom it is safe. The conclusion of this report is that it is not safe to remove refused asylum seekers to the DRC. One of the recommendations of the report is that a system to monitor the post return experience be put in place.


This report has been prepared in response to a growing concern for the plight of Congolese nationals who have sought asylum in the UK, whose appeals have been refused and who have been forcibly removed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo between 2006 and 2011. During this period, first hand reports which were received from nine people who had been living in the Tees Valley area alleged inhuman and degrading treatment at the hands of the Congolese authorities. These were clients of Justice First (Reg. Charity No. 1116388) which was set up in 2006 to work with people in Tees Valley whose asylum appeals had been refused. Justice First helps clients explore ways to reengage with the legal process and offers practical support to those experiencing destitution.

As the United Kingdom has no monitoring mechanism in place to test the UKBA hypothesis of safety on return for rejected asylum seekers, the post return experience of Justice First clients began to be documented. Information in this report postdates the BK Country Guidance case, which proceeded through the High Court and Court of Appeal between 2007 and 2008 and which concluded there was no risk to failed asylum seekers removed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

During the compilation of this report efforts have been made to collate relevant information from other civil society groups that have monitored the post return experience of Congolese returnees. Of the 17 Congolese asylum seekers in this report who were removed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo between 2006 and 2011:

  • 10 were forcibly removed from the Tees Valley
  • 1 Tees valley resident took voluntary return through the International Organisation for Migration
  • 1 has been forcibly removed from the North West
  • 1 returned from Humberside through the assistance of IOM
  • 1 returned from the Southampton area through the assistance of IOM
  • 1 was forcibly removed from the Southampton area
  • Two were forcibly removed from West Yorkshire
  • 9 children were removed with their parents from Tees Valley, 5/9 are now in a third country

Returnees had sought assistance for their post-return situation, and allowed their accounts, or parts of their accounts, to be used. Of the 17 returnees whose experience is included, 11 are men and 6 are women. The report also examines the removal and post-return experience of 9 children removed from Tees Valley with their parents. There is no post return information relating to one of these returnees, a Justice First client, who failed to contact family and friends following his arrival at N'djili airport. In the case of a second returnee who cannot be traced, all information has come from the International Organisation for Migration, which organised her voluntary return, and Refugee Action. In parts, therefore, figures will relate to only fifteen of the seventeen returnees. As returnees have requested anonymity, each refused asylum seeker (RAS) has been allocated a number in order to protect identity.

Civil society groups and experts involved in the BK Country Guidance case in 2007 had been criticised for not carrying out face to face interviews with those who had provided evidence of
ill treatment on return. A visit was made to DRC in 2011 to assess more accurately the post return situation of Congolese who have provided evidence for this report.

'Unsafe Return' provides a credible account of the current situation of fifteen out of seventeen refused asylum seekers who were removed to DRC between 2006 and 2011 and evidence of serious risk and actual harm to them. It includes statements from independent witnesses which corroborate aspects of the accounts provided by these fifteen asylum seekers.

This report and the research for it have been funded by voluntary contributions.

Download the pdf file format here :: UNSAFE RETURN FULL REPORT.

Source ::, 28. Nov 2011