UN refugee agency calls on Kyrgyz Government not to forcibly return Uzbek refugees

9 June 2006

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) today repeated calls to the Kyrgyz Government not to forcibly return four refugees to Uzbekistan who fled their country after last year’s killings in the city of Andijan, saying such extraditions would violate the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) today repeated calls to the Kyrgyz Government not to forcibly return four refugees to Uzbekistan who fled their country after last year’s killings in the city of Andijan, saying such extraditions would violate the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.

Next Tuesday, the Kyrgyz Supreme Court – which has already upheld a Kyrgyz denial of refugee status to three of the Uzbeks – will be reviewing the appeal of the last one. The four are still in detention after being arrested nearly a year ago following an extradition request from the Uzbek Government, and were part of a group of some 500 asylum seekers, all of whom were subsequently recognized as refugees.

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,” UNHCR Spokesman Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva.

“The extradition of recognised refugees would be a violation of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention to which Kyrgyzstan is a signatory.”

All the other refugees in the group of 500 asylum seekers who fled last May’s violence in Andijan, were evacuated out of Kyrgyzstan by UNHCR in July after being accepted for urgent resettlement elsewhere and the Agency has offered a solution in other countries for the four refugees currently detained.

“UNHCR stresses its appreciation for the Kyrgyz government's commitment to asylum principles and wishes to assure the authorities of its continuing assistance,” Mr. Redmond said.

Next week’s Supreme Court review will be the last legal proceeding concerning the refugees and the appeals of the three others were heard in April and May, where the negative decision with regard to their refugee status given by the Kyrgyz Department of Migration Services (DMS) was upheld.

Shortly after last year’s violence in Andijan, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour expressed fears that asylum-seekers and refugees forced to return to Uzbekistan “may face an imminent risk of grave human rights violations, including torture and extra-judicial and summary executions.”

The Uzbek Government claimed fewer than 200 people were killed in the unrest. However, more than 450 of the Uzbek refugees subsequently provided testimony to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) regarding the events of 13 May 2005 and an OHCHR report in July concluded that based on consistent, credible testimony, military and security forces committed grave human rights violations that day.

 

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