Government bureaucracy may lead to the deportation and stoning of an Iranian woman seeking asylum in Canada, as she may be forced back to her home country where he husband has accused her of adultery.
Fatemeh Derakhshandeh Tosarvandan denies her husband’s claims, but she fears she will not get a fair trial in Iran, and women convicted of adultery face death by stoning.
Now, because her estranged husband didn’t officially file the adultery claim until after she made her initial asylum plea to Canadian courts, the deadline for her to re-file is too soon to get the paperwork through. If the case keeps to the intended schedule, she will be forced to head back to Iran to face the adultery charges and the prospect of death.
Tosarvandan, now 40, was set up via arranged marriage with her allegedly abusive husband Mahmoud Hafezi Mashhadi in Iran in 1993.
They had a son, Hessam Hafezi Mashhadi, and moved to Dubai three years later.
Facing fraud allegations in 2009, her husband fled Dubai and returned to Iran. Tosarvandan flew with her son to Canada after her family in Iran told her that her husband had ‘circulated information that I committed adultery’.
Canadian newspaper The Star reports that when Tosarvandan originally filed for asylum, her husband hadn’t officially registered his claims of adultery to the Iranian court, so they had not filed any formal charges at that point.
Because there was no quantitative proof that she was being prosecuted in her country, her claim was rejected by Canadian immigration officials.
In Canada, there is a law that does not permit a refugee to reapply for a second review of their case until one year after they received the initial rejection. The paper reports that in many instances, the authorities have disregarded this ban and allowed the refugees in question to remain in the country until their year is up so that they can put new evidence forward in their case.
But now, following a tightening of the laws on June 29, Tosarvandan faces deportation in October even though she has new evidence since the Iranian court has formally filed the adultery charges against her.
‘The fact that a removals officer can blithely tell me that he can’t wait to allow a risk assessment to be conducted based on the new evidence shows just how far (Canada Border Services Agency) has drifted from Canadian values,’ Tosarvandan’s lawyer Lisa Winter-Card told The Star.
‘The average Canadian would be horrified to know that we’re going to send a woman to Iran to be stoned for adultery.’
As it stands, immigration officials have rejected the lawyer’s request to push back her deportation date to late October and have said that Tosarvandan and her now-16-year-old son must leave the country by the end of the week.
Adding to the surprising decision, Canada formally suspended diplomatic relations with Iran two weeks ago, with foreign affairs minister John Baird saying that the middle eastern country poses ‘most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today’.