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Russian Federation: Uzbek national forcibly returned to Uzbekistan

Briefing notes

Russian Federation: Uzbek national forcibly returned to Uzbekistan

27 October 2006

UNHCR has learned that an Uzbek national, Rustam Tulaganovich Muminov, who had been living in the Russian Federation since 2001, was forcibly returned to Uzbekistan on Tuesday, 24 October, before an appeal against a decision by a Moscow court ordering his expulsion had been heard. This follows several worrying forced returns of Uzbeks earlier this year by Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.

For background, on 2 February 2006, Muminov was detained following an Uzbek extradition request, which was later denied. He applied for asylum in the Russian Federation later that month but his asylum claim was found inadmissible. In UNHCR's view, the merits of the case warranted further examination. For reasons beyond his control, Muminov failed to appeal against this decision within the three-month period established by law.

On 5 October, Muminov approached the UNHCR Moscow office where he was registered and scheduled for a refugee status determination interview on 1 November. He was later detained in Moscow for violations of administrative rules, then deported.

UNHCR is concerned that Muminov was not given the opportunity to have his case reviewed on its merits. For this reason, his expulsion is inconsistent with the principle of "non-refoulement", under which no refugee or asylum seeker whose case has not yet been properly assessed, can be forcibly returned to a country where their life or liberty could be in danger.

UNHCR is seeking clarification from the Russian Federation authorities about this case and is also calling on the Uzbek authorities to adhere to their international obligations. Persons returned against their will to Uzbekistan should be treated in full accordance with international human rights standards.

Earlier this year, UNHCR strongly condemned the forced return of Uzbek refugees and asylum seekers to Uzbekistan. On 14 February, Ukraine forcibly deported 11 Uzbek nationals who had registered asylum claims or were in the process of doing so. On 9 August, four Uzbek refugees and one Uzbek asylum seeker were extradited by Kyrgyzstan. We remain extremely concerned about the fate of all these people. On April 17, UNHCR closed its office in Uzbekistan after being asked to leave by the government.