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31.05.2008

Russia’s Supreme Court cancels the expulsion of refugee to Uzbekistan

   

On 28 May the Supreme Court considered the cassation appeal lodged by Uzbekistan national Dilshod Kurbanov and his lawyer against the ruling of the Tula Regional Court rurning down their appeals against the decision by the Russian Federation Prosecutor General to hand Kurbanov over to Uzbekistan to face criminal prosecution.

As reported here, on 22 April this year the European Court of Human Rights applied Rule 39 calling on Russia to halt the expulsion pending the Court’s review.  Fortunately, this time the Russian authorities did not ignore the Court’s instructions.

  Dilshod Kurbanov was detained in the Tula region on 30 May 2007 because the Uzbekistan law enforcement agencies had placed him on the wanted list.

  In June that year, from the SIZO [pre-trial detention centre], he sent an application for refugee status in the Russian Federation, since in Uzbekistan he is accused of taking part in prohibited Islamic organizations and movements which he categorically denies.

This application was rejected on 9 April 2008. It should be mentioned that the Federal Migration Service ignored the conclusions of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Mission in Russia who found that Kurbanov is in need of international protection and must not be returned to Uzbekistan

On 18 April 2008 the Tula Regional Court rejected Kurbanov’s appeal against the decision of the Russian Federation Prosecutor General (from 26 December 2007) 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.

As already reported, the charges are the standard fare used in Uzbekistan against Muslims persecuted for their religious beliefs.

The Russian Federation Prosecutor General and Tula Regional Court saw fit to ignore the norms of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and the UN Convention against Torture prohibiting sending people back to countries where they could be subjected to torture.

It is important to note that the application to the European Court of Human Rights to apply Rule 39 was based on the well-founded fear that Kurbanov would face torture if returned

It is difficult to say what the outcome of the examination of this case would have been in the Supreme Court had it not been for Strasbourg. It is quite likely that the recent judgment of the European Court on the case of the “Ivanovo Uzbeks” played a role. Kurbanov’s defenders cited this case in which the systematic use of torture in Uzbekistan was testified to, as well as the unconvincing nature of assurances from the Uzbek authorities that international legal norms will be observed in relation to prisoners, these assurances accompanying every request for extradition.

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