Saturday, July 02, 2005
Amnesty statement on Uzbek refugees
More than 500 Uzbekistanis fled their country, and sought international protection and safety in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, after Uzbekistani government troops reportedly fired on demonstrators in the city of Andizhan on 13 May 2005.
The Uzbekistani government has requested the extradition of 131 refugees. Four people have already been forcibly returned by the Kyrgyz authorities in violation of Kyrgyzstan’s obligations under international law. More have been moved from the refugee camp to detention centres and are under threat of forcible return.
Nearly a month after the refugees first crossed the border into Kyrgyzstan, AI interviews revealed that refugees had not yet been provided with an effective opportunity to submit a claim for asylum - the Kyrgyz Migration Service had failed to initiate asylum procedures, in accordance with national law and international refugee standards.
The UNHCR has said that Uzbekistani refugees “face an imminent risk of grave human rights violations, including torture and extra-judicial and summary executions, if returned to Uzbekistan”.
Amnesty International is calling on the Kyrgyz authorities to respect their obligations under customary international law, as well as under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 3 of the (UN) Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which Kyrgyzstan is a party, which prohibit the return of a person to a country or territory where they may face serious human rights violations.
Amnesty asks that its members write to the Kyrgyz authorities and ask them to start asylum proceedings for all who have fled Uzbekistan.