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UNHCR gravely concerned about the disappearance of an asylum-seeker from the Kyrgyz Republic

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UNHCR gravely concerned about the disappearance of an asylum-seeker from the Kyrgyz Republic

4 December 2023

BANGKOK/ALMATY — UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is alarmed over the disappearance of an asylum-seeker in the Kyrgyz Republic and his subsequent refoulement and expresses concerns regarding the shrinking asylum space for those in need of international protection in the country.

During the night of 16 to 17 October, an asylum-seeker disappeared in Bishkek, the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic. The individual had applied for asylum and the General Prosecutor of the Kyrgyz Republic had rejected a request for extradition filed in relation to his case. Shortly before his scheduled departure to another country, the asylum-seeker was reportedly taken from his accommodation by individuals claiming to be law enforcement authorities.

UNHCR expressed grave concerns to the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic about his well-being following reports that he was sent back to his country of origin. The Agency requested the authorities to urgently investigate this case. Already in March of this year, UNHCR had expressed serious concern about the extradition of another asylum seeker by the Kyrgyz Republic. These incidents occur in the context of a worrying decrease in refugee recognition.

The forced return of a person in need of international protection to a country where they may face serious harm constitutes a violation of the principle of non-refoulement enshrined in the 1951 UN Refugee Convention to which the Kyrgyz Republic is a signatory, as well as its national legislation on refugees. The principle of non-refoulement is the cornerstone of refugee protection enabling individuals forced to flee to find safety.

UNHCR reiterates calls on the Kyrgyz Republic to ensure that no person is expelled or returned against their will to countries where their life or freedom may be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, and to ensure fair and efficient asylum procedures that recognise and protect refugees.