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05.06.2007

Ivanovo Uzbeks refused temporary asylum in Russia

   

On 31May the “Ivanovo Uzbeks”, together with their lawyer and an authorized representative from the Network “Migration and Law” of the Human Rights Centre “Memorial”, were informed by the Ivanovo region migration office that their application for temporary asylum in the RF had been turned down.

The texts providing the migration office’s grounds for their decision take up between 13 and 16 pages for each of the Uzbek nationals and make curious reading.

In one case, for example, there are first four pages about the person, the persecution he and his family suffered for many years on religious grounds, about the torture and unjust charges he was convicted of in Uzbekistan. The threats from the Security Service officers who took part in his interrogation after being arrested in Ivanovo in June 2005 are also described. They told him he could expect new torture and up to 30 years imprisonment or the death penalty if he’s returned to Uzbekistan.

Yet later in the text, reference is made to material from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Federal Migration Service, from which it follows that since the official religion in Uzbekistan is Islam, Mr Mukhamadsobirov’s claim that he was subjected to religious persecution is unfounded.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs material states that “The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not have any confirmed evidence of persecution of Uzbek nationals, foreign nationals or stateless persons by the authorities of Uzbekistan on the grounds of race, religion, citizenship, nationality, or political convictions. Nor does it have any documentary evidence that torture and other inhuman treatment is applied to people facing criminal prosecution”.

As for UN documents, material provided by international human rights organizations suggesting that torture is systematically applied, in the first instance against people charged under the “religious articles” of the Uzbek Criminal Code, the lack of an independent justice system in the country and mass violations of fundamental human rights, the references to these are scrupulously transcribed in the decisions of the Ivanovo regional migration office. They clearly however had no effect on the outcome of the court’s deliberation.

The Ivanovo Uzbeks will be appealing against the decision.

As reported, the European Court of Human Rights is in communication with the Russian Government over applications from the Ivanovo Uzbeks. On 27 May this year their lawyer, Ms Sokolova, sent comments from the applications on the question of the admissibility of the application, comments to the answers from the Russian government to questions from the Court and a claim for just compensation and court expenses.

Yelena Ryabinina is  Head of the Program to assist political refugees from Central Asia of the Civic Assistance Committee

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