Statement on the arrest and forced expulsion of Ismail Nalgiev
On May 8, 2019, Ismail Nalgiev, a Russian activist, blogger and active participant in the protests against the agreement on the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia, was arrested by Belarusian police at the Minsk national airport.
During the arrest, he was told that he was on the Russian list of wanted persons. However, the authorities failed to launch the corresponding deportation procedure.
After three hours, he was released and immediately re-arrested by police officers of the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption, as well as the Department of Citizenship and Migration of the Kastryčnicki district of Minsk.
Ismail Nalgiev was brought to the district department of internal affairs in Minsk. A few hours later, his expulsion from Belarus was ordered on vague grounds, which failed to specify what actions could threaten the national security of Belarus, public order, protection of morality, health, rights and freedoms of citizens of the Republic of Belarus.
Despite repeated requests, Nalgiev was not allowed to meet with his lawyer. The activist received no documents about the arrest and expulsion.
Ismail Nalgiev was placed in a temporary detention center in Minsk, where at 9 pm the same day he was able to see his lawyer. The lawyer noted that Nalgiev looked tired and had not eaten since the day before, because, being a Muslim, he was forced to refuse food that was cooked improperly. The prison authorities only allowed to receive warm clothes and suitable food for Ismail Nalgiev on May 9, but as of 4:45 pm May 9, they never reached him. Thus, for more than 24 hours, Nalgiev was detained in the temporary detention center without food.
On May 8, several human rights organizations issued a statement on the incident. The statement noted that there was a risk of torture in case of Nalgiev’s extradition to the Russian authorities, and demanded “strict observance by the Republic of domestic legislation and all necessary procedures in order to prevent violations of Ismail Nalgiev’s rights.”
On May 9, complaints against the police officers were filed in the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
As late as on May 10, Nalgiev’s lawyer was told that back on May 8 the authorities ordered the expulsion of Ismail Nalgiev. Employees of the Department of Citizenship and Migration refused to accept the lawyer’s request for additional security measures. As a result, it was accepted, but left without consideration.
At 1:15 pm, an appeal against the decision to expel Nalgiev from Belarus Belarus was registered in the Main Department of Internal Affairs of Minsk. At 2.30 pm, head of the Department was notified about the appeal and the need to suspend the procedure. However, at 4:30, the official said that the expulsion had been executed.
We believe that the above actions of the police officers violated the country’s international obligations in terms of the need to provide human rights guarantees to Ismail Nalgiev, in particular, relating to:
protection from torture and other cruel, inhuman treatment or punishment, as manifested by the extradition of a foreign citizen to the state, which is known for use of torture, as well as failure to provide adequate conditions of detention to a person adhering to the traditions of Islam;
protection from arbitrary arrest or detention, which has resulted in the violation of the procedure established by law for the extradition of persons on the international wanted list;
ensuring the right to defense, which has resulted in the failure to provide the possibility to obtain legal advice when enforcing the deportation;
ensuring the right to appeal against the decision of forced expulsion, which was manifested in the actual execution of the decision, in spite of a pending appeal.
This is not the first case when the Belarusian authorities violate the rights of foreign nationals. In June 2017, in violation of prescribed procedures, despite the efforts of human rights defenders and lawyers, a Russian Federation citizen Murad Amriev was deported to Russia, despite the fact that there were serious concerns that after he arrival in the Chechen Republic he would be subjected to torture or ill-treatment. In August 2017, Ukrainian national Pavlo Hryb was illegally extradited to Russia for further prosecution.
In connection with the above, we urge the Belarusian authorities to:
- strictly abide by their commitments for the protection and promotion of human rights, in particular, protection against torture and other cruel, inhuman treatment or punishment, on protection from arbitrary arrest or detention, the right to protection, and the right to appeal against decisions;
- give a legal assessment of the actions of officials who violated the rights of Ismail Nalgiev and take steps to restore those rights by providing an effective remedy;
- abandon the practice of “simplified extradition” when addressing requests from the Russian special services and other states seeking the extradition of foreign nationals staying in the territory of the Republic of Belarus.
Belarusian Documentation Center
Advisory center on contemporary international practices and their legal implementation “Human Constanta”
Belarusian Association of Journalists
Belarusian Helsinki Committee
Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Legal Transformation Center
Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House