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19.11.2009 | Arkady Bushchenko

Human rights defenders stop deportation of eight Afghan asylum seekers

   

On Thursday the deportation of eight Afghan asylum seekers to Afghanistan was through the combined efforts of many prevented.

As reported already, on Wednesday a family of 8 from Afghanistan with four children, aged from 3 to 9, flew into the Boryspil Airport in Kyiv. They informed border guards that they wished to seek asylum in Ukraine, however the Ukrainian border guards did not accept their applications and left them in the airport in the transit zone.

On Wednesday and Thursday morning representatives of UNHCR who had learned of the case from a relative of the asylum seekers tried in vain to see the people. The intervention of representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsperson who also came to the airport was also unable to help.

The deportation was scheduled for 14.00

Information was received by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union at about 11 a.m. and then by the Centre for Legal Aid to Victims of Torture and Ill-treatment.  The latter immediately submitted to the European Court of Human Rights an application for temporary measures to be applied, basing this on extremely scant information received from a relative of the family who lives in the United Kingdom.

However at 13.20 information was received that the asylum seekers had been placed on a plane heading for the United Arab Emirates.

At 13.38 a fax was received that the European Court of Human Rights had applied temporary measures (halting any deportation pending review of the case).

10 minutes later, when we already thought that we had been too late yet again, information was received that the plane being used to deport the refugees was returning to Boryspil.

At the present time the asylum seekers are at the airport and are filling out their applications to the migration service. They are being assisted by representatives of the UNHCR and the Human Rights Ombudsperson. The danger of imminent deportation would seem to have passed.

According to the latest information, the pilot returned the plane in response to vehement protest from the Afghan asylum seekers.

On behalf of the Centre for Legal Aid to Victims of Torture and Ill-treatment I would like to congratulate the human rights community for this important achievement. I would also like to thank the UNHCR, the office of the Human Rights Ombudsperson, and the office of the Official Representative to the European Court of Human Rights for their swift measures in implementing the instruction of the European Court on applying temporary measures.

Arkady Bushchenko

Head of the Board of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

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