Rights group calls on Philippine gov't not to deport Iranian beauty queen

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 7) — An international rights group urged the Philippine government on Thursday not to deport an Iranian beauty queen detained at Manila's main airport.

Amnesty International said Bahareh Zare Bahari could face detention and torture if she is deported to Iran.

The Iranian contestant in the Miss Intercontinental 2018 pageant held in Manila is in the custody of the Bureau of Immigration and has sought asylum in the country. She is nearing her fourth week in detention in the transit area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

“Bahareh Zarebahari has been a vocal critic of the Iranian authorities and a public opponent of forced veiling. If the Philippines authorities send her to Iran she risks arrest, torture and other ill-treatment, and unfair trial and imprisonment,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia in a statement.

BI initially barred Bahari from entering the Philippines when she arrived from Dubai on October 17 due to an Interpol red notice issued against her. Bahari was reportedly charged by a fellow Iranian for battery and assault, which allegedly happened in the Philippines.

The beauty queen said that she has been living in the Philippines since 2014 and never went back to Iran.

“It’s appalling that she has been detained for so long in airport transit, in such dismal conditions,” said Bequelin. “The Philippines authorities have a clear international legal obligation to keep her safe and not return her to Iran, where she could face human rights violations.”

He added, “The Philippines authorities have an obligation under international law to refrain from sending anyone to a country where they could be at risk of serious human rights violations.”

The Department of Justice earlier said it will work on Bahari’s asylum plea and resolve it "in due time."