05.12.2007 | Halya Coynash

Russian authorities flout the European Court of Human Rights


Abdugani Kamaliyev (Tursinov), an Uzbek married to a Russian national was forcibly expelled from Tyumen in Russia to Uzbekistan in the early hours of Wednesday morning, This was despite the fact that the European Court of Human Rights had applied Rule 3 binding the member state involved to halt any expulsion procedure prior to Strasbourg’s review. 

A year ago the authorities removed Rustam Muminov despite similar measures from Strasbourg. There were conflicting stories at the time, but the suggestion was plain that they had not received the notification in time.  Yesterday the message was received from Strasbourg some 15 hours before the scheduled flight.  It is clear that Moscow could have stopped the expulsion and did not.

By flouting the European Court’s use of Rule 39, Russia can be considered to have violated Article 34 of the European Convention on Human Rights regarding the right to make individual applications. 

There are other violations of the Convention to be mentioned however this one should be clearly articulated.  Whatever happens now, it is too late to help Kamaliyev (Tursinov) himself, who will almost certainly be subjected to torture and imprisonment on the grounds of his religious convictions. . 

He is not the first victim of such unlawful expulsions, and if we do not act, he will not be the last.

Kamaliyev (Tursinov) disappeared on 23 November.  His wife contacted Yelena Ryabinina of the Civic Assistance Committee who began urgently trying to find him, being thwarted at all points by the Tyumen authorities who refused to provide information and then stopped answering their phones.  Ryabinina called on assistants of the Russian Ombudsmen who were able to prevent Kamaliyev (Tursinov) being sent to Uzbekistan on the weekly flight of 28 November.  Their last minute attempt last night was unfortunately not successful. 

It should be stressed that it was only on 29 November that a court order dated 23 November for administrative expulsion was produced and Kamaliyev’s whereabouts confirmed.  He had been held since his disappearance in a special holding centre for those awaiting expulsion.

The lawyer found for Kamaliyev immediately lodged an appeal against the court order and a hearing was set for 4 December.  The lawyer himself had a long-standing commitment for that day and left all relevant documents with Kamaliyev to apply for a postponement.   If there was a “hearing” it was held without the presence of Kamaliyev (Tursinov) himself who was thus prevented from either presenting the application for a postponement or defending himself.  The appeal was rejected and the expulsion order upheld. 

Throughout 4 December, faxes of the decision from the European Court of Human Rights were sent to all relevant Russian authorities and numerous phone calls were made.  There were also major efforts to publicize the danger Kamaliyev faced in the Russian and international media.

The official in charge of the pre-expulsion holding centre claimed yesterday (with the same line being taken by the Regional Prosecutor) that he had not received official notification of Strasbourg’s halt on any expulsion and would therefore act in accordance with Russian legislation. 

This statement must be questioned on two counts.  The relevant faxes were received not only in Tyumen, but by all those directly responsible for ensuring that Russia obey its international commitments.

It should also be disputed, however, since there were clear infringements of domestic legislation as well as the European Convention on Human Rights which is binding upon Russia. 

We will only mention one of these, namely the overt violation of Article 8 of the Convention - the right to family life.  Abdugani Kamaliyev (Tursinov) is married to a Russian national, and was living with her in Tyumen.  The only grounds entitling the Russian authorities to violate Kamaliyev’s right to family life would have been if he posed a threat to national security.  An extradition request was turned down a year ago.  Nor were there attempts in the last week to suggest any such threat.  The “administrative expulsion” was thus a clear violation of both Russian law and Russia’s international commitments even without the European Court’s intervention. 

The eagerness to oblige repressive regimes in Uzbekistan and North Korea shown recently by the Russian authorities is baffling and disturbing.  It is of urgent concern when the means being used, including abductions and administrative expulsions of people against whom extradition requests have been turned down, are in violation of Russian law and its international commitments.

The expulsion last night was the eighth which human rights groups are aware of.  These are clearly no chance irregularities at local level.  The official who confirmed to the Civic Assistance Committee this morning that Kamaliyev (Tursinov) had been expelled spoke of an order “from above”.  Serious consideration must be given to ensuring that the Russian authorities clearly understand that “above” means the law and scrupulous adherence to Russia’s international human rights commitments.


Halya Coynash

Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group in cooperation with the Civic Assistance Committee

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