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UN refugee agency says Ukraine broke international law by deporting Uzbeks

[JURIST] [JURIST Europe] The UN High Commission on Refugees [official website] has expressed alarm [UNHCR press release] at Ukraine's deportation of 10 Uzbek asylum-seekers to Uzbekistan [JURIST news archive] where they may face torture and abuse, alleging the deportations violated international law. An eleventh detainee was kept in Ukraine because he has relatives there. Nine of the eleven men had registered with UNHCR office in Kiev as asylum seekers. The remaining two had reportedly planned to do the same but were unable to do so.

The UNHCR says the men were not allowed to appeal the deportation or complete full and fair asylum procedures before being deported. The 11 asylum seekers had been arrested on February 7 in two different Crimean towns and detained in the Crimean city of Simferopol. Uzbekistan had submitted an extradition request to Ukraine for the men based on their alleged involvement in the May 13 protests in Andijan [JURIST news archive] that led to the killing of hundreds of civilians by Uzbek security forces. Ukraine is a party to several agreements that proscribe refoulement [CWP backgrounder], the return of people who could face torture or abuse, including the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the UN Convention Against Torture [official PDF texts]. Reuters has more.

Angela Onikepe is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.

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