Priti Patel has been accused of seeking to deport a former senior Iranian police officer who fled to the UK after giving first-hand testimony about potential human rights violations by the Iranian government.
Counsel for the Iran Atrocities Tribunal – also known as the Aban Tribunal – has written to the home secretary saying that a former officer in the Iranian police has been detained in the UK – and told he will be sent 4,000 miles to Rwanda next week.
In a letter, reported by The Guardian, the counsel claims the former officer fled to the UK in May after being sentenced to five years in an Iranian prison for refusing orders to fire upon crowds of protestors in 2019.
The first deportation flight to Rwanda will leave on 14 June, Patel announced last week – but lawyers believe the flight could be delayed because of legal challenges.
The letter to Patel says: “[The former police officer] is a conscientious and brave citizen of the world, and he has a genuine and well-founded fear of persecution in Iran. Iranian agents were seeking his whereabouts while he was in Turkey by harassing his family members.
“Rwanda, having a close relation to the Islamic Republic of Iran is not a safe haven for [him]. Please reconsider your decision for his removal.”
The former officer told the Iranian tribunal that he was in charge of dozens of officers in a provincial city when he was told by authorities to shoot at peaceful demonstrators.
Small boat arrival
He was reportedly tried before a disciplinary court for disobeying the order – and was sentenced to five years.
He fled from Iran to Turkey in the autumn of 2021, eventually crossing to the UK on a small boat on 14 May 2022.
The Home Office has also been accused of trying to deport unaccompanied 16-year-olds to Rwanda in the first wave of asylum seekers subjected to the controversial policy.
One minor was placed in detention awaiting her potential deportation to Rwanda and only released at the end of May following intervention from lawyers.
A Home Office spokesperson told the newspaper: “We remain fully committed to working with Rwanda to offer safety to those seeking asylum.”