Press release: Kazakhstan Plans to Extradite 30 Uzbek Refugees

Association Droit de l’Homme en Asie Centrale, September 8, 2010

On 9 September 2010 the authorities of Kazakhstan intend to take a decision to extradite 30 Uzbek refugees to their country of origin. Torture is a systematic practice in Uzbekistan. Interference on the part of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees does not prevent Kazakhstan’s violation of its international obligations. It is necessary to urgently stop the extradition of these refugees to Uzbekistan, where they will be tortured !

30 Uzbek refugees have been in custody since 9 June 2010 in Almaty (15 people are in a remand centre of the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan, the rest are in the Department of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan). On that day, migration police officers conducted a regular operation «Migrant», aimed at detecting individuals illegally staying in the country. This operation was different from previous ones in that criminal investigators and officers of the National Security Committee (NSC) of Kazakhstan took part in it. As it later turned out, there was a request from Uzbekistan to extradite the aforementioned Uzbek citizens on the basis of the Kishinev Convention on legal assistance in civil, family and criminal cases.

Uzbekistan accuses the arrested refugees of serious crimes, including involvement in terrorism. The Association «Human Rights in Central Asia» has got information that accusations against most of them are based on evidence obtained through torture from convicts. There are 10 refugees among those convicts, who were extradited illegally from South Kazakhstan in November 2005. Later on they were sentenced to long prison terms.

New migration conditions in Kazakhstan violate the rights of refugees

As of March 2010, the UN mandatory refugee status is not recognized in Kazakhstan. 17 of the arrested refugees already have asylum seeker certificates issued by the UNHCR. Kazakhstan started to reconsider their cases with reference to the Law of Kazakhstan «On refugees» of 04.12.2009 № 216-4. The republican central commission on determining refugee status is now empowered to issue refugees with a one-year permission to stay in the country. The commission takes either a positive or negative decision on prolonging the status of a refugee after one year.

It should be emphasized that amendments in legislation allow the commission to overrule an absolutely lawful decision by an international organization. Most of the votes in the commission are those of representatives of special services. [The State Commission of Kazakhstan on determining refugee status is comprised of: The Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan, The Interior Ministry of Kazakhstan, including officers of the department for migration policy, The NSC of Kazakhstan, UNHCR and «Kazakhstan international bureau for human rights and observance of law».] The new migration policy has already resulted in the revision of decisions by the UNHCR regarding individuals who have been previously regarded as refugees. This process has concerned 180 Uzbek citizens and 400 Afghan refugees, who have refugee status and are protected by the UNHCR. Many of them were waiting to be moved to a third country.

The headquarters of the UNHCR is not able to influence the decision of Kazakhstan’s government

On 23 August 2010 relatives of the arrested Uzbek refugees met an expert of the UNCHR, Ajmal Hibari, who arrived from Geneva. He honestly said that the headquarters of the UNHCR was not able to influence the decision of Kazakhstan’s government. «They reject the refugee status in my presence, and I am not able to influence them to take an objective decision in any way. My role in this case is limited to pointing out possible violations in the implementation of laws. The government can either accept my advice or reject it. Kazakhstan took the responsibility to take decisions on granting political asylum. I am only a lawyer. Now the UNHCR office is also a legal adviser».

On 25 August Saber Azam, Regional Representative/Regional Coordinator for Central Asia at United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kazakhstan, invited all Uzbek refugees who were refused political asylum by the commission. During the meeting, it turned out that two lawyers were invited to protect the rights of the arrested people. According to the wives of those arrested, the lawyers have not met their defendants yet.

Kazakhstan ignores the «principle of non-extradition»

The director of the department of the migration policy committee in Almaty, Gulsaroy Altynbekova, says that Kazakhstan has no right to point out to Uzbekistan the unlawfulness of accusations against the arrested Uzbek citizens. Kazakhstan’s legislation stipulates punishment for such crimes too. According to the Kishinev Convention on mutual legal assistance and commitments, defined by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Kazakhstan has to extradite criminals. At the same time, Altynbekova ignores the conclusions of international observers that fabrication of accusations is widespread in Uzbekistan.

The European court on human rights, in a similar case, issued a ruling, which says that «extradition to Uzbekistan would violate their [Uzbek refugees’] right not be [subject to] inhuman treatment, and right to fair trial, as it [extradition] puts their lives and health in danger. [..] their detention in custody in order to extradite was illegal, and there were not any effective means of legal defence with regard to the above violation». (Ismailov and others are against Russia, Complaint № 2947/06 April 2008).

The Association «Human rights in Central Asia» would like to draw attention to the fact that Kazakhstan took the responsibilities to abide by many international agreements on human rights, including:

— The 1951 UN Convention «On refugee status»;
— The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

According to Kazakhstan’s constitution, international law prevails over national legislation. Therefore, the government has no right to extradite citizens to countries, where they might be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Systematic practice of torture in Uzbekistan

According to information from the Initiative group of independent human rights activists of Uzbekistan, no less than 200 convicts die in the country every year from torture. Collective trials are taking place more often against representatives of minority religions, and almost always are subjected to torture during investigation. As Manfred Nowak, a special Rapporteur of the UN on torture, said in April 2006, he has «lots of information that tortures [in Uzbekistan] have been applied and are being applied systematically by both police and security services – in particular this concerns dissidents and other opponents of the regime». The European court on human rights in 2010 issued a ruling, which says that «threat of torture and inhuman treatment are highly likely for any suspect in an [Uzbek] prison». (Garaev against Azerbaijan, Petition №. 53688/0810 June 2010).

On 18 June 2010 the International Federation on Human Rights (FIDH)4 expressed a serious concern over the fate of the Uzbek refugees, who are facing extradition to Uzbekistan, and urged:

The Government of Kazakhstan:

— To ensure, in all circumstances, respect for the principle of “non-refoulement”, the prohibition of torture, in conformity with international customary law, international legislation on refugees, and the 1984 UN Convention against Torture, by refusing to deport or extradite individuals to countries where they risk being subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

—  To recognise the attestations issued by the UNHCR and grant those who posses one the right to
reside legally in Kazakhstan;

—  To find an interim agreement with the UNHCR allowing it to fully exercise its mandate until the
national asylum system is in full conformity with international standards;

— To amend the Refugee Act so that it fully respects international norms and conventions, in particular, to remove the article (Article 12-5) which enables the denial of asylum to people suspected of belonging to religious organisations that were banned in their country of origin;
— To ensure full independence of the bodies responsible for granting asylum from political power and special services to ensure a suspensive appeal of any decision of expulsion;
— Ensure that all decisions regarding expulsion be suspended if a claimant requests an appeal against the rejection of his application.

UNHCR:

— To ensure the confidentiality of any refugee cases examined;

— To establish a transitional agreement with the Kazakh government enabling it to ensure its
protection mandate without restriction until the asylum system of Kazakhstan is in full
compliance with its obligations and international standards.

OSCE:

— To remind Kazakhstan’s international obligations and the principle of “non-refoulement”.

Governments of the European Union:

— To accommodate, as quickly as possible, Uzbek refugees with an attestation from the UNHCR
and put an end to the deportation, under any and all circumstances, of Uzbeks already present on
their territory.

 

“Human Rights in Central Asia” Association joins the FIDH request and calls all people of good will to give their voices to rescue 30 Uzbek refugees, who are expecting the decision of Almaty to extradite them to the country, where tortures awaits.

 

Association Droit de l’Homme en Asie Centrale

Centre MBE 140, 16, rue de Docteur Leroy, 

72000 Le Mans France 

Tel.: +33 6 49 38 86 59 

E-mail: asiecentrale@neuf.fr

 

Appendices:

 

1. List of those under guard in the police department of Almaty city in Kazakhstan.

[Last updated on 2010-08-23]

1. Boltayev Ahmad Alimovich (year of birth 1968)
2. Jalolkhonov Saidakbar Tahirhanovich (year of birth 1974)
3. Kurbonov Kobiljon Ilkhomovich (year of birth 1966)
4. Nabiev Negmatulla Ilkhomovich (year of birth 1958)
5. Nurullaev Bakhriddin Rozikovich( year of birth 1983)
6. Ostonov Ulughbek Hujaevich (year of birth 1973)
7. Pardaev Isobek (year of birth 1987)
8. Pulatov Oybek (year of birth 1987)
9. Rakhmatov Uktam Egamberdievich (year of birth 1989)
10. Tolipov Sirojiddin (year of birth 1986)
11. Turaev Ravshan Akramovich (year of birth 1969)
12. Holturaev Olimjon Mamayusupovich (year of birth 1975)
13. Khuramov Sarvar Abdullaevich (year of birth 1983)
14. Shodiev Akmaljon Zikriyoyevich (year of birth 1977)
15. Sharipov Otabek Mavlonovich (year of birth 1978)
 

2. List of those held by the national security department of Kazakhstan.

(Last updated on 2010-08-23)

 

  1. Abdusamatov Toirjon Azatovich (year of birth 1974)
  2. Akbarov Fayzullaxon Kabulxonovich (year of birth 1990)
  3. Bozorov Suxrob Rozikovich (year of birth 1978)
  4. Botirov Shukhrat Nematovich (year of birth 1986)
  5. Gulyamov Muhiddin Husniddinovich (year of birth 1967)
  6. Kamilov Khurshid Nasyrjanovich (year of birth 1983)
  7. Karimov Dilbek (year of birth 1987)
  8. Kosimov Abror Muminovich (year of birth 1983)
  9. Kuldashev Oybek Shavkatovich(year of birth 1982)
  10. Nurullaev Bakhtiyor Rozikovich (year of birth 1983)
  11. Sulaymonov Tursunboy Hudoyberdievich (year of birth 1976)
  12. Holboev Shukhrat Botirovich ( year of birth 1973)
  13. Hoshimov Alisher Djurabaevich(year of birth 1969)
  14. Yuldoshev Maruf Fahriddin O’g’li(year of birth 1990 )
  15. Yakubov Abduazimhuja Yunushuja O’g’li (year of birth 1982)