Belarus denies asylum to Iranian refugee facing death in home country
The Centraĺny District Court of Minsk has upheld the decision of the Department of Citizenship and Migration, which earlier rejected a refugee application by Mehrdad Jamshidian, an Iranian national sentenced to death in his home country for allegedly killing his mother and brother, nn.by said.
Mehrdad Jamshidian arrived in Belarus in 1993. He soon set up a business and married a Belarusian. He was arrested in late 2012, after the Iranian police requested his extradition as he was suspected of committing a double murder.
The request said that Jamshidian was involved in the death of his mother and brother. After that, he spent more than a year in custody, while the law enforcement agencies of Belarus decided what to do with him.
The General Prosecutor's Office twice refused to hand him over to the Iranian side, as it did not fulfill the conditions of extradition. According to lawyer Natallia Matskevich, representing Jamshidian in court, the Iranian authorities failed to provide a court ruling and the arrest warrant. Meanwhile, murder is punishable by death in Iran.
The Iranian insisted that did not kill his family. The documents said that the murder took place in September 2012. However, Jamshidian returned to Belarus on 25 August of that year.
Jamshidian’s family believes that the death sentence is political harassment by the authorities since the Iranian’s brother was the leader of the opposition movement.
These facts are well known to the Belarusian Migration Service, however, it was decided to send him home. The authority has not taken into account the fact that in 2002 Jamshidian converted from Islam to Christianity. It is viewed as apostasy in Iran and is severely punished by the law, including the death penalty.
The Department for Citizenship and Migration argued that Jamshidian announced his conversion in order to avoid extradition. At the same time, a Baptist pastor confirmed in court that Jamshidian did it back in 2002. A theologian, who was invited to the trial as an expert, said that in Iran Jamshidian can be recognized an apostate, and the judicial system in Iran operates in such a way that the judge can impose a sentence on the basis of subjective beliefs about justice, instead of being guided by objective evidence.
Mehrdad Jamshidian has 10 days to appeal the decision to the Minsk City Court. If there the appeal is rejected, he faces an imminent expulsion, despite the threat of life and the fact that he has a wife and three children in Belarus.
In April 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Committee registered Jamshidian’s complaint and asked the Belarusian government not to send him home. However, the official Minsk has repeatedly ignored the Committee’s Views, arguing that its decisions are not binding.