October 8th, 2010. Gamu Nhengu, an 18-year-old promising singer from Zimbabwe who took part in this year’s edition of “X Factor” is in danger of being deported back to her home country. Gamu emigrated to Scotland to join her mother Nokuthula Ngazana five years ago.
“After a sentence issued by Judge Cheryl Cole”, say Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau, the co-presidents of the human rights group EveryOne in their appeal, “the girl was forced to leave the programme. The Border Immigration Agency has recently informed Gamu and her mother (who had obtained a permit to study at university) that they no longer met Home Office criteria to remain in Britain.
If Gamu and her mother do not agree to leave the country voluntarily, they will be forcibly deported. “Unfortunately”, say the activists, “as Gamu was still a minor when she arrived on British soil, and was covered by her mother’s permit, she cannot put in her own application for asylum or residence. If Gamu and her mother are expelled from the country, they risk being subjected to abuse and harassment: from forced marriages to domestic violence, sexual assault, being reduced to slavery, sex discrimination and even persecution from the government if they were to participate in battles for women’s rights. All these dangers are unfortunately very common in Zimbabwe, where according to reports compiled by Amnesty International and other NGOs, the situation on human rights and civil liberties (particularly where women are concerned) is extremely worrying.” EveryOne Group is asking the British Government to suspend the deportation of Gamu and her mother, and is appealing to the British institutions to respect the international conventions on human rights - starting with the Geneva Convention which obliges the states who ratified the treaty (which includes the UK) to guarantee international humanitarian protection to all those who face persecution in their home country. “We are also asking for a rapid intervention from the European Parliament”, say the presidents of the Italian-based humanitarian organization, “and in particular from the Committee of Civil Liberties and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres. We are also appealing to the Italian Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, to use all available diplomatic channels and intercede through the European institutions to ensure the deportation of the two women from the UK is not carried out. Not only has Gamu shown herself to be deserving from an artistic and human point of view, if she were to be deported back to Zimbabwe with her mother she would find herself in a society where women are discriminated against and humiliated – even more so, seeing that Gamu is young, pretty and by now famous”.
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