UNHCR urges Kyrgyz government not to deport four Uzbek refugees
Geneva, Wednesday 14 June 2006
UNHCR is extremely concerned about the fate of four Uzbek refugees who are still in detention in Osh, western Kyrgyzstan, nearly a year after they were arrested following an extradition request from the Uzbek government.
On June 13, the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan upheld the negative decision with regard to the refugee status of the last of the four Uzbek refugees, taken earlier by the Kyrgyz Department of Migration Services. The other three refugees had received negative decisions earlier in the year.
The latest decision indicates that all Kyrgyz legal proceedings related to the refugee status determination procedures of the four, have been completed. The four Uzbeks cannot appeal this decision and are now dependent on a decision on their fate from the Kyrgyz government. UNHCR recognised the four Uzbeks as refugees under the 1951 Convention in mid-2005. This decision was made after a thorough review of all the circumstances surrounding their cases.
UNHCR reiterates its urgent appeal to the Kyrgyz authorities to refrain from any action aimed at forcibly returning these four refugees to Uzbekistan. UNHCR has secured resettlement places in different countries for the four and encourages the Kyrgyz government to allow them to either remain in the country or transfer them to UNHCR for immediate resettlement.
The refugee agency strongly emphasizes the importance of the principle of non-refoulement, under which no refugees should be forcibly returned to their country of origin. The extradition of recognised refugees would be a violation of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention to which Kyrgyzstan is a signatory. It is also against international law, including the Convention Against Torture.
The four men arrived in Kyrgyzstan in the immediate aftermath of the violent events in Andijan in May 2005. They were part of a group of some 500 asylum seekers, all of whom were subsequently recognised as refugees. All the other refugees in that group were evacuated out of Kyrgyzstan by UNHCR in July and September after being accepted for urgent resettlement elsewhere.
UNHCR appreciates the Kyrgyz government's commitment to asylum principles and wishes to assure the authorities of its continuing assistance.