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21.04.2008

Russian court rejects appeal against extradition of asylum seeker

   

The Tula Regional Court has rejected an appeal against the extradition of Dilshod Kubanov in violation of Russian Federation legislation and norms of international law.

On 18 April 2008 a panel of judges of the Tula Regional Court rejected the appeal lodged by Uzbek asylum seeker Dilshod Kubanov against the decision of the Russian Federation Prosecutor General to extradite him to his country of origin to face criminal charges of “encroachment on the constitutional system of the Republic of Uzbekistan” (Article 159) and “preparation or distribution of material containing a threat to public safety and order” (Article 244-1) of the Uzbekistan Criminal Code. These articles are part of the standard “selection” of charges presented in Uzbekistan to Muslims persecuted for their religious beliefs.

The Tula Regional Court is in violation of the RF Law “On Refugees” and the UN Convention of 1951 “On the status of refugees” since Kurbanov is presently within the process of seeking refugee status and has not yet used his right of appeal against the refusal to grant him asylum. Refoulement (forced return) of such people to their country of origin is categorically prohibited by both Russian and international law.

There are grounds for assuming that it is no accident that the court ruling makes no mention of Kurbanov’s lawyer’s statement that he plans to appeal against the refusal to grant refugee status. Otherwise the court would have had to explain why this was not taken into account.

We would also mention the grounds given for refusing to recognize Kurbanov a refugee. The Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Department for the Tula Region asserts that in the charges against Kurbanov “there is no sign of a political motive for the prosecution” and “according to information from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Uzbekistan government denies the existence of torture.” He also claims that “the Russian Federal Migration Service has no facts concerning persecution of citizens on ethnic and religious grounds”.

It would follow from this that neither the Federal Migration Service nor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are familiar with the Resolution of the UN General Assembly “The human rights situation in Uzbekistan”, passed in March 2006, or with the address of the UN Secretary General with the same title, or with the conclusions of the session of the UN Committee against Torture in November 2007.  Not to speak of the Human Rights Watch Report “Nowhere to turn: torture and ill-treatment in Uzbekistan”, also published in November 2007. All of these documents point both to continuing religious persecution, and to the systematic use of torture against suspects, defendants and convicted prisoners in Uzbekistan.

It should be noted that the view of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Mission in Russia that Kurbanov is in need of international protection and must not be returned to Uzbekistan was also not taken into consideration.

Kurbanov’s lawyer plans to appeal against the court ruling from 18 April. An application has also been sent to the European Court of Human Rights asking the Court to apply Rule 38 to halt his extradition given the serious risk that he will be subjected to torture if returned.

Based on a report by Yelena Ryabinina of the Civic Assistance Committee

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