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21.02.2006

PUBLIC STATEMENT FROM UKRAINIAN CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS ON THE EXTRADITION OF UZBEK ASYLUM SEEKERS

   

As representatives of Ukrainian civic organizations, we wish to express our vehement protest and outrage over the shameful actions of the Ukrainian regime which have led to Ukraine’s handing over to Uzbekistan at least 10 people who had applied for political asylum in Ukraine.

According to information provided by the Department of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, between 14 and 15 February 2006 10 citizens of Uzbekistan were forcibly returned from Ukraine to Uzbekistan.  They had come to Ukraine fleeing persecution on political grounds in Uzbekistan.  They had applied to the Ukrainian authorities for political asylum.

In accordance with provisions of Ukrainian legislation and the UN “Convention relating to the Status of Refugees” of 1951, they were under the protection of international law.

The extradition of the asylum seekers to Uzbekistan was a demonstration of flagrant disregard for international standards of the protection of refugees. The asylum seekers were deprived of legal assistance, access to employees of the UNHCR, and to any procedure in keeping with the standards of a just legal system. Such actions by the authorities testify to a cynical lack of respect for fundamental human rights, international commitments and also national law.

The government of the country which our regime handed those people over to has gained notoriety throughout the world through its use of concentration camps, the large number of political prisoners against whom the state applies torture, extra-judicial executions and the death penalty.  The government of Uzbekistan is also know for its practice of brutally crushing any manifestations of free thinking, freedom of expression, freedom of religion and freedom of peaceful assemblies. The haste with which the Ukrainian authorities handed the refugees over to the Republic of Uzbekistan is not only a demonstration of political double standards in the field of human rights, but also shows the lack of humanity and simple sound judgement in taking decisions about people’s lives.

The way in which the authorities behaved denigrates Ukraine to the level of countries for whose governments the value of human life is an empty phrase. Moreover, the information we presently have suggests that the extradition of the Uzbek asylum seekers was a planned special operation by the Security Service of Ukraine, the State Committee for National Minorities and Immigration of Ukraine, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and some other state executive bodies.

We consider that the direct responsibility for this flagrant violation of human rights lies with the heads of the state bodies named.  However the responsibility also lies with the President of Ukraine who did not fulfil his constitutional duty to guarantee the observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In view of this appalling violation by Ukraine of the fundamental principles of humanity, taking into account the exceptional damage caused Ukraine’s international reputation and the authority of the Council of Europe to which Ukraine is a signatory, we demand:

1. that the President of Ukraine immediately acknowledges that Ukraine has violated the UN “Convention relating to the Status of Refugees” of 1951, the 1984 UN “Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms from 1950, and that on behalf of the Ukrainian people he apologises to those who have suffered as a result.

2. that the President of Ukraine immediately passes a resolution dismissing the Head of the Security Service of Ukraine.

3. that the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passes a resolution dismissing the Head of the State Committee for National Minorities and Immigration of Ukraine, and without delay creates a Special Investigative Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to examine the reasons and the consequences of Ukraine’s violation of international human rights standards during the preparation, the passing of a court judgment and implementation of the extradition order on the citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan in February 2006.

4. that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine take measures to ensure the presence of observers from Ukraine diplomatic institutions during any possible court trials of the citizens of Uzbekistan extraditing from Ukraine. That it prepares and publishes a report on the compliance by the Uzbek authorities of international standards of just court proceedings during the court consideration of the cases of those individuals extradited by Ukraine.

We turn also to the Council of Europe with a request to send a special commission to Ukraine to examine the situation as regards the Ukraine’s observance of the human rights of those foreign nationals in relation to whom decisions regarding extradition to countries which are not members of the Council of Europe are implemented.

In our opinion, the Council of Europe, the European Union, the UNHCR, and other inter-state and inter-governmental organizations should immediately suspend any technical cooperation and provision of technical assistance to any Ukrainian state bodies or institutions in the field of development of the state border of Ukraine, countering illegal immigration, technical support for law enforcement bodies and state border control bodies of Ukraine until the publication of the results of an investigation into the circumstances around the extradition of asylum seekers from Ukraine to the countries of their origin in 2006, the bringing to justice of those responsible in the violation of the human rights of these people.

We express our deepest sympathy to the people whose rights were violated as a result of the arbitrary extradition from Ukraine to the Republic of Uzbekistan, and call upon the Government of Uzbekistan to unswervingly comply with the provisions of international conventions on human rights and with Uzbekistan’s humanitarian commitments as a member of OSCE. 

The Charitable Organization “The Chernihiv Women’s Human Rights Centre”

The Vinnytsa City Civic Organization “The Vinnytsa Human Rights Group”

Helsinki Initiative -  XXI, the city of Chortkiv
The Civic Organization MART, Chernihiv

The Civic Committee for the Protection of Constitutional Rights and Civil Liberties (Luhansk)
The Izyumsky Charitable Foundation “Our Future”

The Institute “Respublica”

The Luhansk Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine

Amnesty International in Ukraine

The Odessa Human Rights Group “Veritas”

The Podilsky Centre for Human Rights, Vinnytsa

The Sumy City Civic Association  “The Sumy Committee for the Protection of Human Rights”

The Sumy Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine
The Ukrainian Environmental Association “Zeleny svit” [“Green world”]

The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

The Kherson City Association of Journalists “South”

The Kherson regional organization of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine

The Kherson Regional Charity and Health Foundation

The Chernihiv Regional Civic Organization “Human Rights”

The Chernihiv Civic Committee for the Protection of Human Rights


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