A 32-year-old Iranian, former boxing champion who won medals for Cyprus in the past, and has been detained this past month for deportation, is pleading to be allowed to remain in the country.
Barhad Baroni, who said he arrived in Cyprus in 2000 at the age of 16, and was until 2007 representing Cyprus abroad in boxing tournaments, was taken about a month ago to the Menoyia detention centre and is slated for deportation.
He told the Cyprus Mail authorities insist that they had rejected his asylum application in 2008, and that he had even signed the paper in question, but he and his lawyer, Laris Vrahimis, insist that Baroni never received this paperwork, and that authorities have failed to present the signed documents.
Baroni, who lives in Limassol, is married to a woman from China and has a 7-month-old daughter. His told his story to Politis because he was desperate for help. This prompted a response from the interior ministry which said that even though Baroni was in the past given the opportunity to legalise his stay on the island, he did not do so.
For humanitarian reasons, it said, Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos gave instructions for his release from Menoyia and he is to be given nine months to arrange his and his family’s departure.
The ministry said that Baroni arrived on the island in 2001 on a tourist visa and that he applied in 2003 for asylum which was rejected. Since then, it said, his stay at the Republic has been illegal.
It added that in 2014 he was given the opportunity to file for a special permit as long as he would present a contract signed by the labour department that he found employment, but that he did not comply and continued to remain in the country, while he also founded a company.
“This does not legalise his stay,” it said. “We will have a last attempt with the minister to see if anything can be arranged as to his permit,” Vrahimis said.
He added that his client was given a residence permit in 2014 as a third country national, and he was allowed to work only as domestic worker, or in agriculture but he foundeded a company, which he was not allowed to do. “But there were no jobs available,” the lawyer said.
Vrahimis said Baroni could in the past apply for citizenship as he has been on the island for many years but the problem was that the process takes five years, and if in the meantime applicants need to leave the island, if their temporary permit expires, they are considered to have left the country and the procedure stops.
Baroni cannot at the moment file for one as his residence permit is under scrutiny, Vrahimis said. He was arrested about a month ago when he was stopped for a traffic offence and officers realised his visa was expired and took him to Menoyia. He was also surprised to hear that his asylum request was rejected as he said, he never received a rejection letter.
“A month now, my wife and child are at home alone, without any help. I need to be out to provide for them,” Baroni told the Cyprus Mail. He added that his wife had also just had surgery.
Baroni was a boxing champion for Cyprus until 2007 when he sustained several injuries and was forced to stop. “I broke both my arms and my nose in a match,” he said. He added that after that, has been an assistant coach with the Cyprus amateur boxing federation. “I won medals for Cyprus”.
He added that he invested €15,000 to found a small bottled water distribution company, and now his money is gone as he is not in a position to work due to his detention. He also said that despite repeated requests, authorities failed to present the asylum application rejection letter they insist they sent him.
The head of migrant support group KISA Doros Polycarpou said that as regards deportations, the best interests of the children should be taken into consideration before any actions are taken. He said that according to conventions on children’s rights signed by Cyprus, every child is entitled to citizenship and that if Iran and China refuse to grant citizenship to Baroni’s child, then the RoC is forced to give it.