Belarusian human rights activists appealed to the President of the Kyrgyz Republic to prevent the possible extradition of the defectors to Uzbekistan.
On 27 July the Council of the Human Rights Center Viasna sent a letter to the president of the Kyrgyz Republic Mr. BAKIEU.
Bishkek 720003, Kyrgyzstan
Fax: +996 312 21 86 27
Salutation: Dear Acting President,
The Human Rights Center Viasna from Belarus is concerned over the situation in the frontier region of the Kyrgyz Republic after the events in Andizhan on 13 May 2005. The people and authorities in your country showed compassion to several hundreds of the despaired people from Uzbekistan. You received them, provided medical help to those in need of such, and placed them in a guarded camp. This is an act highly appreciated by the international community.
We are, however, concerned over the statement you made on 23 July 2005 at the congress of the Popular Movement, where you said that 12 people seeking asylum in your country may be extradited to the authorities of the neighboring Uzbekistan. Sharing the opinion that all international agreements should be honored by the Kyrgyz Republic, let me still disagree that one can choose one that is least likely to offend the neighbor.
Any issues regarding the possible extradition of refugees and asylum-seekers should be first of all viewed from the non-extradition principle laid down in Article 33 of the UN Convention on Refugees of 1951. Provision of shelter is a peacemaking and human act on the part of a sovereign state that should not be treated as an act unfriendly to the refugees' country of origin.
Also, a refugee or an asylum-seeker cannot be extradited to the country, where they may tortured to death, as was the case with four Uzbekistanis extradited in June 2005 without your consent and permission to the authorities of the neighboring country.
Article 3 of the UN Convention Against Tortures and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Kinds of Treatment and Punishment imposes an absolute ban on the banishing, return or extradition of any person to the country, where they can apparently be subjected to tortures.
Uzbekistan pursues a practice of cruel, flagrant and large scale violations of the human rights, including tortures, this is the statement made at the UN Commission for Human Rights session by the UN Special Reporter for Resisting Tortures after his visit to Uzbekistan.
Many countries of the world recognize as a reason not to extradite a person Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (if the person extradited has not had or will not have the right to minimal guarantees of a fair and unbiased trial during the criminal investigation procedures). As many authoritative international organizations witness, Uzbekistan does not guarantee such rights.
In connection with the bilateral agreement between the Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan on the mutual legal assistance in civil, matrimonial and criminal cases of 24 December 1996, it should be noted that Article 18 of the Agreement provides for denied legal assistance if it can lead to the violation of the human rights (which will be the case with Uzbek refugees once deported, even if they are accused of grievous offences in their homeland), or it is in violation of the legislation of the requested Contracting Party. We would like to satisfactorily note that according to the national law of your country "On Refugees", any person who has filed a petition for asylum is under protection of the Kyrgyz Republic after the petition has been filed. Furthermore, this progressive law guarantees that the refugee may not be returned to the country of origin against his will, for fear of persecution or brutal kinds of treatment and punishment. We would also like to note Article 9 of the Law of Kyrgyzstan "On Refugees" that gives the right of a month stay on the territory of the country (to implement the right to legally enter any other country) to any person that has received a final court ruling that denies him the refugee status. Part 2 of article 32 of the UN Convention on the Refugees' Status marks that extradition should be done only to execute the rulings taken exclusively in court (!).
All the world looked with sympathy at the high trust your people have placed with you at the recent presidential elections. Earlier we admired your courage as you became the head of the revolutionary movement for renovation and democracy. But even popular presidents very often have to make a choice. Good neighbor relations cannot extend to the requirement of brutality from a freedom-loving people you have the honor to represent today.
We hope that despite the hardness of such a choice you will be able to take a decision that would not let down your people, or disappoint the world.