Saskatoon woman deported to Pakistan where she fears stoning
Published Tuesday, September 16, 2014 10:38AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 16, 2014 11:18PM EDT
A Saskatchewan woman accused of adultery in her home country has been deported to her native Pakistan, where she fears her life could be in danger.
Jamila Bibi broke down in loud sobs at the Saskatoon airport Tuesday as her journey out of the country began.
Her supporters had been working to stop her deportation, saying the woman in her early 60s could be stoned to death once she returns to Pakistan.
Bibi was arrested and detained last Wednesday during a “pre-removal interview,” according to federal court documents. After being informed of the decision to deport her, the documents said Bibi repeatedly asked the officers for help, saying her life would be in danger in Pakistan.
She then became “hysterical” and began hitting herself in the head and chest, the officers said.
“I haven’t done anything wrong, not stolen anything, I worked and now they are doing this,” one officer is quotes Bibi as saying in the documents.
“I can kill myself now,” she said, and was then arrested for “her safety and the officers.”
After being handcuffed, Bibi’s bank card was taken from her and given to the friend who accompanied her to the interview. Bibi was left with $184.25 in cash.
Kicked out of Canada
Bibi openly wept as she said her goodbyes early Tuesday morning before being placed on a flight from Saskatoon to Toronto.
After a layover in Toronto, Bibi was flown out to Pakistan in the afternoon. Her supporters had been hoping for a last-minute intervention from Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney to halt the deportation.
Bibi's lawyer, Bashir Khan, says his client fled to Canada in 2007 after she was falsely accused of adultery. He said the case stems from a land dispute in which she was awarded property over her husband’s family, who then made the accusations as a way of getting back at her.
She came to Canada after being let out of jail on bail.
Khan said the Canadian government has decided Bibi can move elsewhere in Pakistan, despite also acknowledging that she is at risk from both individuals and state authorities in the country.
“Except that makes no sense to me because the criminal charge is outstanding and she’s a target of honour killing,” Khan told CTV News Channel. “She will be. She’s received threats already.”
A deportation was originally ordered for Bibi in 2011, after her bid to secure refugee status was rejected.
Her plea to the UN
Khan took Bibi's case to the United Nations' Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which ordered the Canadian government to stop Bibi's deportation until it could review her case.
But Bibi was detained under federal orders and on Tuesday she was deported back to Pakistan.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said Canada has a “fair and generous” asylum system governed by an independent board. During the House of Commons question period Tuesday, he said claims are decided on facts, not political pressure.
“And where claims fail, there is recourse to appeals,” he said. “When those appeals are exhausted, we all expect failed claimants to leave this country.”
Melissa Anderson, a spokesperson for the Immigration Refugee Board of Canada, told CTV Saskatoon that Bibi was detained because Canada Border Services Agency "felt she was unlikely to appear for her scheduled removal from Canada."
Bibi speaks no English and has been working at a small Saskatoon restaurant for the last six months. Her boss and friend, Sahana Yeasmin, told CTV that Bibi’s "situation back home is very bad."
"I know my life would be in danger if I am sent back and I would rather to have peaceful death here than be killed for something that I did not do," Bibi had written in a letter to the UN.
Amnesty International had also urged the Canadian government to reconsider the deportation, saying the work of the UN body should have been completed before the Canadian government made any final decisions.
"There’s no way that Canada would want to be responsible for returning a woman back to a country where her rights could be violated," Gloria Nafziger, an Amnesty International refugee co-ordinator, told CTV.
"It makes it harder for Canada to be an advocate for human rights if it is found to be failing itself."
With reports from CTV’s Richard Madan, CTV Saskatoon’s Angelina Irinici and files from The Canadian Press