An adulterous Iraqi taxi driver has been awarded an Australian refugee visa after he convinced the Refugee Review Tribunal he would be hunted down by an infuriated husband who caught him in an tryst with his wife.
The Shia refugee, who arrived by boat from Indonesia in December 2011, claimed the husband, an Iraqi soldier, chased him through city streets after uncovering the affair, repeatedly firing a handgun at him.
Although his asylum claim was initially rejected by the Immigration Department, the refugee was among more than 500 boatpeople to successfully appeal their case at the Refugee Review Tribunal since July.
The Australian reported yesterday that in the past eight months, three quarters of boatpeople who appealed against their failed asylum claims in the RRT have been rewarded with permanent residency in Australia.
The tribunal accepted the Iraqi man had no viable asylum claim under the 1951 Refugee Convention but decided to grant him “complementary protection” because he would probably have faced serious harm if returned.
Giving evidence to the tribunal, the taxi driver recounted how his 31-year marriage to a cousin had grown tiresome – including in the bedroom – when an attractive, unmarried 38-year-old woman hired his cab in 2006.
They struck up an instant rapport and, after five meetings, the infatuated man approached her family with a plan to divorce his wife and wed the younger woman.
The offer, which was made behind his wife’s back, was rebuffed. A marriage was instead arranged to the Iraqi soldier, whom her family liked better.
The taxi driver and his lover were apart for six months, until the woman began inviting him over for sex whenever her husband was at work, often twice a week.
The affair ended after 18 months, when the soldier came home earlier than expected at 9pm one night. The taxi driver was frightened for his life – extramarital relations are sometimes punished by “honour killing” in extreme Islamic circles – and scaled a wall into the front garden.
The soldier, recognising the taxi driver and incensed by what he had uncovered, drew his handgun and gave chase, firing several rounds at him through the darkness.
As the soldier and his family hunted for him, the taxi driver fled across Iraq’s southern border to Kuwait. The refugee’s family sought to negotiate a truce, but the soldier was in no mood to deal.
After flying to Malaysia, he reached Indonesia before making the treacherous month-long journey to Australia aboard a smuggler’s boat.
His mistress was beaten by her husband until she confessed the affair, and he then divorced her.
Refugee Review Tribunal member Rosemary Mathlin found in December that although he did not fear harm for a convention reason – such as race or political opinion – she awarded “complementary protection” because it was “highly probable that if the applicant returns to Iraq he will be killed by the husband of his former lover”.
Ms Mathlin said it would be unreasonable to expect the man, from Thi Qar province in Iraq’s south, to resettle elsewhere in Iraq, such as a Shia neighbourhood in Baghdad, even if the husband did not find him.
“Without (tribal and family connections) he would face discrimination in relation to housing, employment and basic services, and . . . he may even face physical danger.”
Iraqi law prescribes a lesser sentence for “honour killing” than it does for murder.Source: The Australian – “Adultery now reason for refuge”
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