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IRIN Asia | Asia | KYRGYZSTAN-UZBEKISTAN | KYRGYZSTAN-UZBEKISTAN: Court overturns denial of refugee status to Uzbeks | Democracy, Human Rights, Peace Security | News Items
Sunday 18 December 2005
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KYRGYZSTAN-UZBEKISTAN: Court overturns denial of refugee status to Uzbeks

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

BISHKEK, 18 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - An appeal to overturn a decision by the Kyrgyz migration department to deny refugee status to Uzbeks who fled violence in southeastern Uzbekistan was granted by a city court in the capital, Bishkek, on Thursday.

"We decided to rule out the statement by the migration department to deny refugee status due to the fact that the department had not sufficiently assessed all the materials," Jyrgalbek Nurunbetov, a judge at Bishkek's inter-district court, said. "This decision does not grant the status of refugee but it gives the right to re-apply to the migration department for refugee status. I finalised the hearing of an appeal by one Uzbek national," Nurunbetov added.

More than 1,000 Uzbeks fled across the border to Kyrgyzstan in May, following a violent crackdown on anti-government protests in Andijan. Upwards of 1,000 unarmed civilians may have been killed in the protests according to rights groups. The Uzbek government claims the death toll is 187.

Almost 440 of the registered Uzbeks staying in Kyrgyzstan who were granted refugee status by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were airlifted to Romania awaiting third country resettlement in late July.

Another 15 had been held in custody in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh since May pending consideration of an extradition request by Tashkent. Eleven of them were later granted UNHCR-mandated refugee status. The remaining four appealed against the decision by the Kyrgyz migration department, which had denied them refugee status. They were assisted by the Adilet legal clinic, a local rights NGO, which claimed that the migration body had not properly processed their case.

"We submitted four court appeals to protect the rights of four Uzbek nationals [held in detention]. The appeal was to annul the migration department's decision to deny them refugee status as there had been shortcomings in the processing of their applications. The remaining three hearings will be held next week," Cholpon Jakupova, head of Adilet, explained.

The office of the Kyrgyz prosecutor general said earlier this month that they would like to extradite the Andijan 15, allegedly for criminal activities, based on documents provided by the Uzbek government. However, UNHCR, along with major international and local rights groups, urged the Kyrgyz government to refrain from extraditing them, saying such a move would be in breach of Bishkek's international commitments. They added that if deported, the Uzbeks would face persecution, torture and imprisonment.

A report by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven, published in 2003, noted that torture was systematically practiced by Uzbekistan's law-enforcement authorities, both in prisons and detention facilities.

Meanwhile, IRIN learnt that two of the four Uzbeks who fled to Kyrgyzstan and were extradited to Tashkent in June had been reportedly tortured by Uzbek security forces, while one of them reportedly died after being tortured. The body of Hasan Shakirov, one of the extradited men, has been delivered to his family, according to residents in the Bogishamol neighbourhood of Andijan.

Another deportee, Tavakkal Hojiev, an informal leader of Uzbek asylum seekers who had been sheltering in a camp in southern Kyrgyzstan, is currently being kept in hospital, in a serious condition, according to local residents.

"Tavakkal Hojiev's relatives reported that his condition was grave as he was hospitalised after being tortured. There is no hope that he will survive," Kabul Parpiev, reportedly one of the leaders of the Andijan revolt, recently told the Russian-based Ferghana.ru internet news site.


 Theme(s) Democracy
Other recent KYRGYZSTAN-UZBEKISTAN reports:

Third country resettlement of Andijan 15 progresses,  10/Aug/05

Focus on Andijan asylum seekers,  5/Jul/05

UNHCR official urges Bishkek to honour refugee commitments,  27/Jun/05

More Uzbek asylum seekers may be deported,  23/Jun/05

Pressure on Uzbek asylum seekers continues,  16/Jun/05

Other recent Democracy & Governance reports:

IRAN-IRAQ: Landmine agreement signed, 18/Dec/05

IRAQ: Election results to be delayed up to two weeks, 18/Dec/05

TANZANIA: Ruling party wins national elections in Zanzibar but islands remain divided, 16/Dec/05

SWAZILAND: Doubt over legality of protests keep Swazis at bay, for now, 16/Dec/05

SIERRA LEONE: Corruption may be illegal, but no one’s giving it up yet, 16/Dec/05

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