Ukraine is in haste to transfer Zhanara Akhmetova to Kazakhstan

  • 01.11.2017
  • Author: Editorial office

Kazakhstani opposition journalist Zhanara Akhmetova was detained in Kiev on 21 October 2017 with gross violations of the Ukrainian legislation. On 24 October 2017, the court ruled on her temporary arrest for 18 days. In protest against the decision, Akhmetova went on a hunger strike. The journalist’s defenders didnt have time to protest the decision, as the state prosecutor filed a petition for applying an extradition arrest to Akhmetova. The Ukrainian prosecutor's office allegedly ‘verified’ and failed to identify circumstances which would prevent Zhanara Akhmetova's extradition to Kazakhstan. The prosecutor's office does not give permission to bring Akhmetova to court, thereby disrupting court hearings and failing to give her the opportunity to appeal the arrest. The prosecutor's office ignored the obvious political context of the case, as well as the fact that extradition cannot be carried out while the appeal procedure regarding the decision to refuse the granting of asylum to Akhmetova is still underway.

The consideration of the application for the extradition arrest will be held in the Shevchenkivskyi District Court of Kiev on 2 November 2017 at 3:30 p.m.

The journalist's defenders claim that the prosecutor's verification, which lasted only a week, was of a formal nature and consisted merely in obtaining from the Ukrainian Migration Service, a copy of the decision to refuse to grant refugee status to Zhanara Akhmetova. No proper check for political motives in pursuing the opposition journalist ora possible threat to her life and health in the case of her extradition to Kazakhstan, have been conducted.

Zhanara Akhmetova's counsels have noted that the haste with which Ukrainian law enforcement agencies have conducted the verification and submitted the petition to the court may indicate someone's vital interest in carrying out the extradition as soon as possible.

The consideration of the application for the extradition arrest was scheduled for 31 October 2017, but it wasn’t held, as the prosecutor's office did not ensure the transfer of Zhanara Akhmetova to the court. A representative of the Ombudsman's office was present at the trial. MP of Ukraine Svetlana Zalishchuk expressed her readiness to bail Zhanara Akhmetovaout. Perhaps this was the true reason behind the obstruction of the court session.

The court session to consider the appeal against the decision on preventive detention of Zhanara Akhmetova was scheduled for 1 November 2017. However, the hearing did not take place either, as the prosecutor's office did not give its permission to bring Akhmetova to the courtroom. Akhmetova has already been on a hunger strike for 8 days in the detention facility. In fact, she has been deprived of the opportunity to appeal against the decision on herdetention.

Kazakhstan declared Zhanara Akhmetova wanted based on the court’s final judgement which, according to the counsels, is illegal. The Migration Service of Ukraine issued a decision to deny the granting of asylum to Akhmetova, but failed to inform her about it. Shortly after that, she was detained. It wasn’t long before some facts have been revealed, possibly proving the cooperation between Ukrainian and Kazakhstani special services with the aim of extraditing Akhmetova.

Zhanara Akhmetova, along with her 9-year-old son, moved to Ukraine in the spring of 2017 after a series of politically motivated administrative punishments, as well as threats of initiating criminal prosecution against her.

Should Zhanara Akhmetova be extradited to Kazakhstan, she may face torture and an unjust trial.

Ukraine should not help authoritarian regimes pursue politically motivated persecution. The Open Dialog Foundation hereby calls for careful monitoring and publicising of the case of Zhanara Akhmetova. We call upon representatives of the civil society and diplomats to take part in court sessions and to address the Prosecutor's Office and the Migration Service with official letters and inquiries aboutthe violations in the case of Akhmetova.

For more detailed information, please address:
Lyudmyla Kozlovska – lyudmylakozlovska@odfoundation.eu