UN agency asks Ukraine to free detained former prime minister of Tajikistan

20 March 2013

The United Nations refugee agency said today it is deeply concerned about the continued detention and possible extradition of the former prime minister of Tajikistan, Abdoumalik Abdoulladjanov, a recognized refugee who was arrested in Ukraine.

“Since Mr. Abdoulladjanov’s return to his country of origin would violate both international and domestic law, his continued detention for extradition purposes lacks a legitimate purpose,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a press release.

A district court in Kiev ruled on 15 March that Mr. Abdoulladjanov can be detained for up to 12 months, pending a decision on his extradition to Tajikistan.

The former Tajik prime minister was arrested at Kiev’s Boryspil International Airport on 5 February on an international warrant after travelling from the United States.

He is accused by Tajik authorities of involvement in a 1996 assassination attempt on his former political challenger and current President, Emomali Rahmon.

UNHCR urged Ukraine – a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention relating to the status of refugees and the 1967 protocol – to act in accordance with international law and release Mr. Abdoulladjanov out of respect for his refugee status.

It also reiterated the importance of the principle of non-refoulement, by which no State party to the Convention “shall expel or return (‘refouler’) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

Refoulement is a violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, as well as prohibited under the national laws of Ukraine.

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