Sunday 20 August 2017

State to rule on deportation of pregnant woman to UK

Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

THE High Court will decide this week whether or not to deport a Pakistani woman who is too advanced in her pregnancy to be put on board a plane and who is a member of a Muslim sect that is facing persecution.

It is the first time the State has sought the deportation of a woman so far advanced in pregnancy.

At a hearing on Wednesday last the court was told that Rizwana Aslam, 26, who has a master's degree in economics from Lahore University, is due to give birth before the end of January. She was not present in court and her counsel, Garry O'Halloran, presented a letter from her GP saying she was not well enough to travel from her home in Galway to Dublin for the court hearing.

However, this has not been accepted by the Department of Justice as sufficient cause not to have her transferred by land and ferry to the United Kingdom.

Counsel for the Minister for Justice, David Conlan Smyth, argued that Ms Aslam was well enough to travel to the United Kingdom, from where she had entered the Republic last February to join her husband, whom she had married in a proxy Muslim marriage while she was still in Pakistan and he was living here.

Mr Smyth said there was doubt over the validity of the proxy marriage.

He also said there was no evidence to suggest Ms Aslam would not receive proper medical treatment if she was deported to the UK and that she would have the right to challenge any further deportation from there to Pakistan.

Mr O'Halloran said the fundamental point of the application for transfer of Ms Aslam to the UK was that the Republic did not want Ms Aslam to give birth to a child which would have Irish citizen status. He said: "The Minister seeks to expel Ms Aslam from the country for the stated reason that she is heavily pregnant and that it be prioritised on that sole basis."

"It is not," he said, "so much as no room at the inn, but no room at the stable."

The court was told that Ms Aslam's presence here was brought to the attention of gardai when she and her husband applied to be married in a civil ceremony at the Registrar in Galway. The couple were proposing to be officially married here as they were uncertain of the status of their Muslim wedding and did not want to face deportation of Ms Aslam and her child.

Mr O'Halloran told the court that when they were alerted, gardai travelled to Galway and arrested Ms Aslam and brought her to Dochas women's prison in Mountjoy, Dublin.

When she was brought to the prison on the evening of November 29, staff refused to accept her as she was suffering from cramps and showing signs of giving birth.

She was taken to the Rotunda Hospital. An emergency sitting of the High Court at the home of Judge Gerard Hogan the same night granted a stay on the deportation until last Wednesday.

The court heard that after she was brought to the Rotunda, doctors treated her for two days to ensure she and her baby recovered from the ordeal.

Mr O'Halloran also told the court the couple are members of the Ahmadi sect, which is subject to murder and persecution by fundamentalist Islamists, and her uncle had been one of the survivors of an attack on two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore in which over 90 people were killed.

He said Pakistani mullahs had declared the Ahmadi religion to be apostate and that all its members should be killed.

Ms Aslam's husband, Fakhrr Ud Din, has refugee status here. Two of his relatives, one a doctor, were murdered by fundamentalists.

The judge said he would give his decision on Tuesday.

Sunday Independent

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