Uzbek asylum seeker released by Ukrainian court

On Monday evening 8 December, the Holosiyivsky District Court in Kyiv rejected an application to hold Abdumalik Bakaev, Uzbekistan national, in custody for 40 days pending extradition to Uzbekistan.

The representatives of the prosecutor’s office were unable to produce documents confirming that the detained man was wanted by the authorities for alleged crimes committed in Uzbekistan.

As already reported, Bakaev fled Uzbekistan in 2000 having already been sentenced twice for his religious convictions, and fearing new persecution. In June, he learned that the Uzbekistan authorities were making enquiries about him, and decided he would not be safe remaining in Russia.

After arriving in Ukraine, he approached the UNHCR for international protection and on 6 November lodged an application with the Kyiv Migration Office for refugee status, which is presently under review.

Despite this, on 4 December he was detained at the same address that he had given in his application for asylum by police officers on the request of the Uzbekistan authorities.

As well as the details provided yesterday, it was also learned that on 7 December, with the period allowed for detention without a court order (72 hours) having expired, Bakaev was “released” and still in the Holosiyivsky police station detained for a further 3 days.

He was properly released only on 8 December in the courtroom. According to lawyer Viacheslav Yakubenko, the main argument in Bakaev’s favour was the recent precedent set by the European Court of Human Rights in its judgment on the case of Izmoilov and others v. Russia from 24 April 2008. (see the reports about the “Ivanovo Uzbeks”). In that case, the Court found that extradition of the Uzbek nationals to Uzbekistan would be a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights since it was well-known that torture and ill-treatment by the law enforcement agencies was common.

As reported already, Ukraine has also received deserved criticism for handing over asylum seekers or refugees to Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka and Russia.

We will be following this case very closely, but welcome the ruling taken today by a court in Kyiv.


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