Strasbourg: Convention rights of Kyrgyz national detained in Russia and threatened with extradition violated

The article 3 and 5 rights of a Kyrgyz national detained in Russia for more than a year and threatened with extradition were violated, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

The applicant, Mr U.N., is a Kyrgyzstan national who was born in 1991 and lives in Vladivostok in Russia. The case concerned his threatened extradition to the Kyrgyz Republic.

Mr U.N., an ethnic Uzbek, arrived in Russia in July 2010 shortly after mass disorders and inter-ethnic clashes in Kyrgyzstan. Wanted by the Kyrgyz authorities on charges related to these clashes, including the kidnapping and murder of two law-enforcement officers, he was arrested in Vladivostok in January 2014 and placed in detention. He was subsequently remanded in custody and his detention extended on a number of occasions before being released in July 2015.

In the meantime, in October 2014 the Russian prosecuting authorities accepted the Kyrgyz authorities’ request for Mr U.N.’s extradition. Mr U.N. appealed, arguing that, as an ethnic Uzbek charged with involvement in violent crimes related to the mass disorders of 2010, he would face a serious risk of torture and ill-treatment if extradited. Ultimately, in March 2015 the Supreme Court rejected his appeal, noting the diplomatic assurances provided by the Kyrgyz authorities as well as the monitoring mechanism in place whereby individuals already extradited to Kyrgyzstan could be visited by Russian diplomats. The extradition order thus became final. Mr U.N.’s extradition was, however, stayed on the basis of an interim measure granted by the ECtHR under Rule 39 of its Rules of Court, which indicated to the Russian government that he should not be extradited or involuntarily returned until further notice.

In parallel proceedings Mr U.N. applied for refugee status, which was refused by the migration authorities in April 2014. This refusal was upheld by the courts in April 2015.

Relying on article 3 (prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights, Mr U.N. alleged that, should he be extradited to Kyrgyzstan, he would face a serious risk of torture or ill-treatment because he belonged to the Uzbek ethnic minority. Also relying on article 5 § 4 (right to have lawfulness of detention decided speedily by a court), Mr U.N. complained that there had been no legal avenues to obtain judicial review of the lawfulness of his detention.

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