Ruling on Iranian beauty queen’s asylum plea may be out next week

Published November 3, 2019, 5:20 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Rey Panaligan 

The Refugees and Stateless Persons Protection Unit (RSPPU) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) may come out next week with its ruling on the application for asylum filed by Iranian beauty queen Zare Bahari Bahareh.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Markk Perete (Photo courtesy of /  FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Markk Perete (Photo courtesy of / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Justice Undersecretary and DOJ Spokesperson Markk Perete said on Sunday (November 3): “Hopefully by next week, the RSPPU would be able to finish its appreciation of evidence” and eventually come out with a ruling.

The RSPPU is composed of state counsels and acts independently. Its decision on a petition for asylum needs no approval from the DOJ secretary whose power is limited to review of the ruling.

At the same time, the RSPPU does not publicize its decisions on petitions for asylum.

Undersecretary Perete said: “Most often, especially if you alleged political persecution, it is a very sensitive issue. So most often, it really depends on the applicant if he or she wants to have it publicized or not. Besides, under our rules, we keep things confidential.”

He said that if a petition is granted, the relevant government agencies and law enforcement agencies are informed that the person subject of asylum cannot be deported.

Zare Bahari was intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) immediately after her arrival last October 17.

The exclusion proceedings against her has been terminated by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) but the application for asylum is still pending.

Zare Bahari was Iran’s representative in the Miss Intercontinental pageant held in Manila in 2018.

“Based on information received from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) Zare Bahari was prevented from entering the Philippines because of an Interpol (International Police) Red Notice issued against her,” Perete said.

He said the Red Notice “is based on a criminal case for assault filed against her in Iran by a fellow Iranian, which assault allegedly happened here in the Philippines.”

Based on the Interpol’s Red Notice, the BI immediately intercepted Zare Bahari and initiated an exclusionary proceedings against her.

“While the exclusionary proceedings against her has been terminated, Zare Bahari remains in BI custody and could not be sent back to Iran as she has filed an application for asylum. Such application the DOJ shall resolve in due time,” he added.

He explained that “deportation pertains to the removal of an alien already in the country for cause, while exclusion pertains to the state’s refusal to allow an alien to enter its territory.”

Zare Bahari arrived in NAIA last Thursday on board a Cebu Pacific flight from Dubai. She was immediately intercepted and secluded by BI officials at the airport.

She denied being a respondent in an assault and battery case in Dagupan City in Pangasinan.

She claimed she is studying in the Philippines and is already on her last year as a dentistry student.

At the same time, she claimed her life would be in danger if she would be deported to Iran since she violated her country’s strict rules on joining pageants and speaking out for women’s welfare.

Perete said that while waiting for the resolution on her application for asylum, Zare Bahari remains in BI’s custody at the NAIA Terminal 3.

He said there is no guard assigned to her and she could go around the airport freely, but she cannot leave the airport because “in so far as the BI is concerned, she is still an excluded individual until such time that a decision on her asylum petition is handed down.”

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