We are pleased to inform you that on 29 September 2020, the National Asylum Court of France delivered a historical decision granting refugee status to Kazakhstani opposition leader Mukhtar Ablyazov.
- Arbitrary detentions
- Mass detentions
- Freedom of speech
- Civil liberties
- Freedom of assembly
- Freedom of association
- Freedom of religion
- Rule of law
- Hate speech and hate crimes
- Prisoners' rights
- Political prisoners
- Political refugees
- Expulsions and entry bans
- Fair trial
- Political persecution
- Death penalty
- Punitive psychiatry
- Schengen Information System
- COVID-19 pandemic
- Rights of soldiers and veterans
- Humanitarian aid
- International law
- Magnitsky Act
- Selective justice
- Judiciary independence
- Persecution of lawyers
- Polish-Ukrainian relations
- Law enforcement and security
- Enforced disappearances
- War crimes
The case of Daria El Zhed, a Russian opposition activist, has become one more example of political persecution against members and leaders of the Open Russia opposition movement. This movement was founded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a long-time opponent of the Russian authoritarian regime. Daria El Zhed asked for political asylum in Austria. Now she may have to face extradition from Austria to Russia, where she will be tortured and subject to unfair investigation and trial.
On May 26, 2020, seven MEPs addressed Ukrainian President Zelensky, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova and the Head of the State Migration Service Maksym Sokoliuk with an appeal demanding the reevaluation of Zhanara Akhmetova’s asylum application and halting her extradition. Ms Akhmetova – a Kazakhstani journalist and oppositionist – and her 12-year-old son risk deportation from Ukraine as a consequence of the Supreme Court’s decision on May 14, 2020, which overturned its previous instance and rejected her asylum application.
A prominent Kazakhstani journalist and opposition activist Zhanara Akhmetova could be illegally extradited from Ukraine to Kazakhstan at any time. According to our sources, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine is already preparing to place her under extradition arrest. On 19 May 2020, Akhmetova got a decision by the Supreme Court of Ukraine depriving her of the chance to be granted asylum. The decision was adopted in haste during the quarantine. It was also adopted without taking into account the arguments of Akhmetova’s lawyers.
On May 14, 2020, the decision to grant asylum to a prominent Kazakhstani journalist and oppositionist, Zhanara Akhmetova, and her 12-year-old son, was reversed by the Supreme Court of Ukraine, acting as a last instance court. Akhmetova is one of the leaders of the country’s biggest opposition movement “Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan”.
On May 14, 2020, the Supreme Court of Ukraine, acting as a last instance court, reversed the decision of the previous instance and declined to grant asylum to a prominent Kazakhstani journalist and oppositionist, Zhanara Akhmetova. The hearing was held without the presence of Akhmetova’s attorney. Akhmetova can be extradited to Kazakhstan anytime. If extradited, she faces torture and unfair trial. With all avenues for appeal having been formally exhausted, it is only the international community that can block the unlawful expulsion.
Zhanara Akhmetova is a Kazakhstani journalist, one of the leaders of the opposition movement “Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan” (DCK). For several years, Akhmetova and her minor son have been unsuccessfully seeking refugee status and, through this, political asylum in Ukraine.
In case of the extradition of Akhmetova, Ukraine would violate several ratified international conventions. For the new government, this case would become one of the first serious exams in the observation of the rights of refugees and extradition procedures. Will the new authorities of Ukraine pass the test in the cooperation with dictatorial regimes?
On 10 December 2019, in Kyiv, a discussion was held on the topic: “How to protect political refugees from illegal extraditions and misuse of interstate legal assistance?”. The event was held as part of the 4th National Human Rights Non-Conference. The Open Dialogue Foundation, the Right to Protection Charitable Foundation, the Kharkov Institute of Social Studies, and the Human Rights Agenda Coalition were among the organisers of the event.
On November 29, 2019, the Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) met in Strasbourg to discuss, among other items, the INTERPOL reform and extradition proceedings. A delegation of ODF, represented by Lyudmyla Kozlovska and Ana Ursachi, Moldovan lawyer and human rights defender, arrived at Palais de l’Europe to support the debate.
In the present document, the Open Dialogue Foundation, the Italian Federation for Human Rights, the Arrested Lawyers Initiative, the Human Rights Defenders e.V. and the Kharkiv Institute for Social Research attempt to fill the gaps in the PACE report and propose recommendations with respect to improving cooperation among the member states of the Council of Europe in the sphere of extradition.
In international law, there is an unconditional ban on the extradition of persons to countries where they may find themselves at risk of torture and ill-treatment. Extradition requests issued on the basis of politically motivated prosecutions are also illegal.
Civil society activists from Kazakhstan and Russia who are seeking political asylum in Ukraine, have faced secret surveillance and threats from unidentified persons. The activists claim that Kazakhstan’s special services are involved in this matter.
On 25 June, 2018, the Kyrgyz court authorised the extradition of the well-known opposition blogger Muratbek Tungishbayev to Kazakhstan. On 26 June, 2018, late in the evening, security officers took Tungishbayev from the detention centre in an unknown direction.
When arriving in Ukraine, political refugees do not leave their problems behind; on the contrary, they face new ones.