By Poly Pantelides
THE Commissioner for Children’s Rights is expected to intervene in a case where a three year old girl has been deprived her European mother and Pakistani father, because the migration department insists that the couple’s marriage was one of convenience.
An Interior Ministry report, seen by the Cyprus Mail, claims that Mitova Zoya Margaritova from Bulgaria “was already pregnant before her marriage” to Muhammad Nadeem and that police arrested her for deportation in early August based on “investigations establishing the marriage was one of convenience.” But the pair were married in Cyprus on November 25, 2009 and their daughter Laiba, who is now three, was born on October 14 the next year.
“So, according to [authorities, Mitova] was pregnant for over 11 months!” the family’s lawyer Michalis Paraskevas said in his letter to the Commissioner Leda Kousoumba, sent on Sunday.
The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), whose authority is higher than the Cypriot courts, states EU citizens may freely reside anywhere in the EU unless there is a public order or public safety reason to act otherwise. Deporting an EU citizen may also take place in an emergency, according to the ECJ. “What is this emergency [they] are invoking? None at all!” Paraskevas said.
Mitova’s husband was arrested on Saturday, again on the claim his marriage was fake, and is being held in Lakatamia holding cells in the Nicosia district. A DNA test, for which Muhammad was forced to pay, proved last month he is indeed Laiba’s father. “Our state decided to take the father away from the child even though they know Muhammad is the father… ,” Paraskevas said.
Putting the fake marriage claims to one side, Paraskevas said EU laws are meant to protect the parents of a child from being deported unless all other legal measures are exhausted, while Cyprus police directives prohibit the arrest of parents in the presence of their underage child. Child protection laws further protect mothers from arrest when their child is younger than three, he added.
The state’s position was that a marriage of convenience constitutes a “serious threat to public order and the Republic’s safety,” police said in an August report but did not explain how this “serious threat” came about. The migration department has also not explained how arresting the parents of a three year old dissipates a threat to the Republic, which can only be imaginary given the claim by migration that Mitova was pregnant before the couple’s wedding.
Paraskevas has also notified the Ombudswoman, the European Commission, the United Nations’ Children’s Fund UNICEF and human rights’ non-governmental organisation Amnesty International. But the point is that there is a child “deprived of her family and crying for them,” Paraskevas said.