- Federal Court turns down request to delay deportation
Jamila Bibi, a Saskatoon, Sask., woman facing criminal charges for adultery in Pakistan, could be the target of a so-called honour killing by her husband's family if she is deported, her lawyer says.
Bashir Khan says Canada risks breaking international law if Bibi, 63, is deported to her native Pakistan on Tuesday.
"She has outstanding criminal charges [in Pakistan] that have been filed against her for the crime of adultery," Khan said in an interview with CBC News.
"She is a target for honour killing by her ex-husband's family. The Islamic way of doing that is stoning to death."
Lawyer scrambled to file federal case
Khan said he filed a motion for a stay of removal with the Federal Court on Monday morning, though it was rejected that afternoon.
Khan noted that typically a person is given eight to 10 days notice by the Canada Border Services Agency before being deported. In this case, Bibi was given five.
The four-page decision of the court, signed by Judge Marie-Josée Bédard, said Bibi "has not convinced me that she will suffer irreparable harm if she is removed to Pakistan."
The judge said Bibi's situation had already been assessed by officials, on two occasions, and that she had not brought forward any new information about the potential risk.
"It is not the court's role to revisit the risk allegations that have been assessed," Bédard wrote.
UN office examining case
The United Nations' Office of Human Rights began looking at Bibi's case in November, but has yet to recommend whether she should remain in Canada because she's at risk.
Khan said it's wrong for Canada to deport her before the UN office issues its report.
'They are no longer going to wait for the United Nations decision, and they're going to unilaterally, in violation of international law, deport this poor lady.' — Lawyer Bashir Khan
Bibi arrived in Canada in 2007, claiming refugee status.
Canada rejected that claim and, in 2011, the government deemed her "deportation ready." But in 2012, Khan successfully got the UN involved.
It started investigating, but last week Canada gave word that Bibi had to go.
"They are no longer going to wait for the United Nations decision, and they're going to unilaterally, in violation of international law, deport this poor lady," Khan said.
"Somebody should not be deported because there's an imminent risk of irreparable harm to them."
Supporters of Bibi rallied this weekend in Saskatoon.
On Monday afternoon, after getting the federal court decision, Khan said he tried to reach his client but learned she had already been moved from a women's detention facility in Prince Albert, Sask., where she was being detained.
He added he remains very concerned about what she will face in Pakistan.
"It's bleak. It's dark," he said. "She's a sitting duck, literally, once she gets there."
Officials ready to remove Bibi
On Monday night, in response to an enquiry from CBC News, a spokeswoman for the Canada Border Services Agency said officials do not comment on individual enforcement actions, but noted Bibi was in custody and the subject of a valid deportation order.
"The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states that removal orders must be enforced as soon as possible, and the CBSA is firmly committed to doing so," Jacquie Callin told CBC News in an email.
She added there are four possible destinations for people in Bibi's situation. She may be deported to:
- The country from which she came to Canada.
- The country in which she last permanently resided before coming to Canada.
- A country of which she is a national or citizen.
- The country of her birth.
It is believed all or most of those options would send her back to Pakistan.
"The decision to remove someone from Canada is not taken lightly," Callin added. "Our laws are clear — people who are inadmissible to Canada are expected to comply with our laws and leave our country."
Amnesty International 'disappointed'
In Toronto, Gloria Nafziger, a refugee coordinator with Amnesty International Canada said news of the court decision was a disappointment.
"I'm very surprised," Nafziger told CBC News Monday night. "I'm really surprised that in the federal court judgment today, the judge didn't acknowledge — at all — the international human rights that were at stake in this case."
Nafziger said she could not address details of Bibi's case, but added Canada should have respected the UN's request to refrain from expelling Bibi while the UN Committee Against Torture completes its review.
"[The UN Committee] saw something in that file that made them want to pause and take a second look," she said. "And when rights are at stake, particularly when it's a right not to be returned to torture, it's an international obligation."
Nafziger added that Canada's international reputation is open to being questioned because of situations like the one facing Bibi.
"Why can't we pay attention to international human rights obligations?" Nafziger asked. "How can we call others to account when we refuse to pay attention in our own country. It weakens our position."
Bibi's lawyer said the case diminishes the country's reputation as a leader in human rights.
"It's shameful that Canada, that used to be known as a champion for human rights — with the kind of government and the kind of policies its now having — it's not the Canada that was known as the world champion in human rights," Khan said. "We are perhaps becoming some other country."
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Join online host Matt Kruchak from Monday to Friday between 6-8:45 a.m. on cbc.ca/saskatoon for a lively and engaging live chat. While chatting, tune into Saskatoon Morning on 94.1 FM with host Leisha Grebinski.