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UNHCR asks Ukraine to free detained refugee, decline extradition request

Press Releases, 20 March 2013

UNHCR is deeply concerned about the continued detention and possible refoulement of the former prime minister of Tajikistan, Abdoumalik Abdoulladjanov, a recognized refugee arrested in Ukraine.

A district court in Kyiv last Friday ordered Mr. Abdoulladjanov's detention for up to twelve months, pending a decision on his extradition to Tajikistan. The former Tajik prime minister has been recognized as a refugee by the United States and had travelled to Ukraine on a valid US-issued travel document with a Ukrainian visa. He was detained upon his arrival at Kyiv's Boryspil International Airport on 5 February 2013.

UNHCR reiterates the importance of the principle of non-refoulement, under which no refugee can be forcibly returned to their country of origin, including by way of extradition. Refoulement is a violation of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, to which Ukraine is a signatory, as well as a fundamental breach of international human rights law. Refoulement is also prohibited under the national laws of Ukraine.

Since Mr. Abdoulladjanov's return to his country of origin would violate both international and domestic law, his continued detention for extradition purposes lacks a legitimate purpose.

UNHCR urges the Ukrainian authorities to act in accordance with international law by respecting Mr. Abdoulladjanov's refugee status and releasing him from detention. Ukraine is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention relating to the status of the refugees and the 1967 protocol.

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