Positive shift in the case of the “Ivanovo Uzbeks”
On 15 December the Civic Assistance Committee and the Human Rights Centre “Memorial” received copies of the court rulings on appeals from the “Ivanovo Uzbeks” against the refusal to provide them with temporary asylum in Russia.
The Octyabrsky District Court in Ivanovo has found the refusals unlawful and ordered the Department of the Federal Migration Service for the Ivanovo region to eliminate the violations committed in reviewing the applicants appeals.
The court pointed out the Migration Service had not provided sufficient evidence that the applicants would not face the threat of torture if returned to Uzbekistan and had not assessed the documents from the UN and international nongovernmental organizations presented by the defence and confirming the existence of such a threat.
The court added that the Department of the Federal Migration Service for the Ivanovo region had not taken into consideration the fact that the applications had been declared mandate refugees by UNHCR. The Departments decisions, as a result, had not reflected the principle of refoulement of asylum seekers enshrined in the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
In addition, the court stated that the Departments decisions had been taken in the absence of results of medical examination of the applications which was an infringement of established procedure for reviewing applications for temporary asylum.
The justification for the court rulings is extremely important since it is based on the requirements of the law regarding a comprehensive study of evidence in review of cases. This arouses hope that justice could be restored with regard to the “Ivanovo Uzbeks”.
When receiving the rulings of the Octyabrsky District Court in Ivanovo, the applicants lawyer Irina Sokolova was notified that the Department of the Federal Migration Service for the Ivanovo region has lodged an appeal against the rulings with the Ivanovo regional court, however the defence has not yet been told what the appeal grounds are.
It should be noted that on 18 December 2006 the deadline ran out for holding the Ivano prisoners in custody, as established by Article 109 of the Russian Criminal Procedure Code. The Civic Assistance Committee and the Human Rights Centre “Memorial” have been told that if all `13 prisoners are not freed on that day, they will begin a hunger strike.
Yelena Ryabinina, Head of the Program to assist political refugees from Central Asia of the Civic Assistance Committee