UN mandate refugee disappears after being summoned to the Russian Federal Migration Service


Djong Koun Tchol, a North Korean national, is a UNHCR mandate refugee and has papers confirming that he is seeking asylum in Russia.  He disappeared on 2 November after being asked to visit the Migration Service’s office. He phoned his common law wife who is Russian from there and said he had been asked to wait half an hour.  His wife has heard nothing from him since. She has also informed the Civic Assistance Committee, which helped Djong Koun Tchol apply for asylum, that her  mother was visited by the FSB and asked questions about where Djong Koun Tchol  was, what he was doing and his relations with her daughter.

The Director of the Civic Assistance Committee Svetlana Gannushkina has expressed deep concern about the disappearance of Djong Koun Tchol. The Committee’s lawyers, as well as staff of the UNHCR have checked in all places where people awaiting deportation are held, and have ascertained that no formal decision to extradite him has been taken.

There have however been a number of cases where foreign nationals were handed over unlawfully.

The most notorious case, reported here, was that of Rustam Muminov. He was handed over at the initiative of the Russian FSB on 24 October 2006, even though the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg had passed a ruling calling for the deportation procedure to be halted

North Korea is a country notorious for its human rights violations and there are serious grounds for fearing the safety of  Djong Koun Tchol were he to be returned there. 

There would also be serious grounds for concern about the motives and actions of the Russian authorities in handing over a mandate refugee and an asylum seeker.

The FSB, with other authorities colluding, have already demonstrated their willingness to oblige the security service in Uzbekistan and other countries with seriously tarnished records.

It is important that all such cases are publicized as widely as possible to ensure that yet another grave injustice is not perpetrated. 

Based on material from the Civic Assistance Committee

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