Tuesday, April 28, 2009
She can stay, for now
Faces possible honour killing if deported to Pakistan
By TOM GODFREY, SUN MEDIA
Last Updated: 28th April 2009, 3:01am
An ecstatic Roohi Tabassum wept yesterday after learning a federal court judge stopped her removal from Canada just hours before she was to be deported to face her ex-husband and possible death by honour killing in Pakistan.
"I feel alive that I can now carry on with my new life," Tabassum said yesterday. "This is one of the best days of my life."
Tabassum, 44, was to be driven to the U.S. border today at Niagara Falls and turned over to U.S. immigration officials. She entered Canada from the U.S. in 2001 and filed a failed refugee claim. She faced deportation from the U.S. to Pakistan.
"I am crying because I am so happy," she said. "No one can imagine how great I feel not to be facing death for once."
Tabassum claimed she couldn't return to Pakistan because her ex-husband, Faisal Javed, threatened to kill her.
STYLES MEN'S HAIR
He was angered because she works in a salon where she styles men's hair, she said, and also suspected she had a boyfriend, which she denies.
Madame Justice Anne Mactavish said Tabassum would likely be deported back to Pakistan from the U.S., where she has no status.
"The applicant has established that she will suffer irreparable harm" if she is removed from Canada," Mactavish ruled.
She allowed Tabassum to remain in Canada until a pre-removal appeal can take place, which can take about nine months.
Her lawyer Max Berger told court that 1,200 to 1,500 women were killed in 2007 from honour killings in Pakistan, according to U.S. Department of State statistics.
"Honour killings continue to be a problem with women in Pakistan," he said. "Cases go unreported because women are reluctant to press charges because of a stigma involved."
The case has caught the attention of hundreds of Toronto Sun readers and those who saw her video on torontosun.com.
Meanwhile, in Parliament yesterday NDP MP Irene Mathyssen demanded that Immigration Minister Jason Kenney halt the deportation.
"She is begging for her life," Mathyssen told the House of Commons. "Will the minister ensure that Roohi is not deported?"
Kenney said he "would be happy to review the case as it relates to an apparent application on humanitarian and compassionate grounds."
Please thank Mr. Godfrey!