Will Ukraine protect the rights of asylum seeker Umid Khamroyev ?
Umid Khamroyev, an Uzbekistan national, asked for refugee status in Ukraine in 2009. He stated that he feared persecution from the Uzbekistan authorities for his religious believes and because many of the people he knew had been imprisoned under “political” and “religious” articles. The Ukrainian authorities turned down his application, deciding that there were no grounds for his fears of persecution. Umid Khamroyev appealed against that decision however on 10 June 2010 the court decided that his fears had no basis. The next step, after receiving a written copy of the court ruling, should have been to appeal it. However he was not given a chance. On 15 June at 7.55 a.m. he was taken from his home by Ukrainian enforcement officers who did not present any identification or documents justifying his detention, and did not indicate where he was being taken or for how long.
The Ukrainian authorities thus refused to grant Umid Khamroyev refugee status on the grounds that he was not being persecuted but then detained him at the demand of his persecutors (He has been declared on the wanted list in Uzbekistan under four notoriously “political” and “religious” articles of the Criminal Code – from “an attempt against the constitutional system in Uzbekistan” to “taking part in a banned organizations”.
Lawyer of the detained man, Viacheslav Yakubenko has demanded that his client be released since handed an asylum seeker to Uzbekistan would be a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (prohibition of torture). He explained to the court that there were serious grounds for believing that he would be subjected to torture if extradited to Uzbekistan. However the Prosecutor and representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs demanded that Umid Khamroyev be held in custody pending receipt of a request for his extradition.
On 17 June 2010 the Irpin City Court of the Kyiv region ruled that he be held in custody for a further 10 days. He spent International Refugee Day in prison, facing the threat of being returned into the hands of those from whom he fled.
On17 June, by the way, the Law on amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code regarding extradition came into effect. According to Article 461 of the CPC, a person detained who is being searched for by a foreign country must be released within 72 hours if a motivated court ruling has not been received regarding the use of temporary or extradition-related arrest. In view of this, Mr Khamroyev’s lawyer has applied to the court for the ruling from 17 June extending detention to be revoked.
According to the civic organization “Without borders”, a refugee from Uzbekistan Khamdullo Turhunov who had asked for refugee status in Ukraine disappeared without trace. Attempts to receive an answer from the Ukrainian authorities have been fruitless, however according to unofficial information he may be In an Uzbek prison.
The news is extremely disturbing. The Uzbekistan authorities have on many occasions cooperated with the Russian authorities, with the latter on at least two occasions flouting European Court of Human Rights instructions halting extradition (cf. http://www.khpg.org.ua/en/index.php?id=1275609163 and the links below for the last case). Ukraine also, in 2006, extradited 11 Uzbek nationals in circumstances which had no justification under Ukrainian or international law.