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UNHCR concerned about Uzbek refugees still detained in Kyrgyzstan

Briefing notes

UNHCR concerned about Uzbek refugees still detained in Kyrgyzstan

9 June 2006

UNHCR remains 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.

Next Tuesday (13 June), the Kyrgyz Supreme Court will be reviewing the appeal of the last of these four Uzbek refugees in Bishkek. The Supreme Court's review will be the last legal proceeding concerning the refugees. The appeals of the three other refugees were heard in April and May and the negative decision with regard to their refugee status given by the Kyrgyz Department of Migration Services (DMS) was upheld.

The four men arrived in Kyrgyzstan in the immediate aftermath of the violent events in Andijan last May. 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 after being accepted for urgent resettlement elsewhere.

UNHCR again calls on the Kyrgyz government to refrain from any action aimed at forcibly returning these four refugees to Uzbekistan and reiterates 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.

UNHCR stresses its appreciation for the Kyrgyz government's commitment to asylum principles and wishes to assure the authorities of its continuing assistance. UNHCR has offered a solution in other countries for the four refugees currently in detention.