A Lawyer’s Appeal to Slovakian Authorities
Editorial board of Waynakh Online received another appeal on the situation of two Chechen asylum seekers in Slovakia.
Here is the appeal:
To: Minister of Justice of the Republic of Slovakia
Ms. Lucia Žitňanská
Mrs. Heidi Hautala
Chair Of the Subcommittee of the European Parliament
Mr. Thomas Hammerberg
Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe
Subject: Regarding the extradition of two asylum seekers from Slovakia to Russia
Dear Mrs Minister,
I am writing you this letter in reference to the alarming situation facing two Chechen asylum seekers, Ali Ibragimov and Anzor Chentiev, who are awaiting extradition to the Russian Federation.
These two Chechen asylum seekers have been in prison in Slovakia since 2006 due to an arrest demand from the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office which has no basis or proven evidence. I must point out that the Russian Prosecutor’s indictment is based on testimony from an individual, A.M. Mukayev, who later admitted that he made the statement while being tortured. Also their friend, Adlan Shakhayev, who was extradited from Slovakia to Russia, faced torture and released only with ransom.
Even though the Russian Federation guarantees a fair trial and promises not to use capital punishment against Mr Ibragimov and Mr Chentiev; both world renowned and leading Russian human rights organizations have published repeated reports about the bad situation in Russian prisons and especially the torture and ill-treatment of ethnic Chechen prisoners. In this issue, the most well-known case is about a Chechen prisoner named Zubair Zubairayev. A Russian journalist, Elena Maglevannaya had a big role in the exposure but, when Russian authorities started to put pressure on the journalist, she was forced to leave Russia and has recently received refugee status in Finland. This circumstance shows us that Russia tries to hide barbaric practices in its prisons.
I know that there is a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decision on the case of these two Chechens and you may say that your extradition process is legal and on an equitable basis. You have provided a pro bono lawyer and Slovakian courts and even a special court on human rights evaluated the case. I would still like to call your attention to something important that appeared in the decision of the ECHR:
“The applicants indicated that they would submit a written statement by Mr Shakbayev, together with the relevant medical reports. No such documents have been submitted.“
“According to third-party comments by the Government of the Russian Federation, the criminal proceedings against Mr Gasayev had ended following an amnesty.” (But even after guarantees from the Russian Federation, two months after his release, Murad Gasayev disappeared. This fact was not stated in court.)
A lawyer has a lot of responsibilities as the representative of his or her client; even if you act as a pro bono lawyer, you have to follow ethical rules and your legal duties. One of these is acting in accordance with the interests of the client and with legal obligations. In this case however, it seems clear that my Slovakian colleague did not work with his client’s best interests in mind and also violated his basic obligations. According to my knowledge, Adlan Shakhbayev’s written statement and relevant medical report, as well as the information about Murad Gasayev were delivered to the lawyer. Still, he did not speak of these documents to the ECHR and this irresponsible act seriously impacted the result of the case. In this situation, how can we say that justice has been done? I believe that the Chechen asylum seekers must apply once again to the ECHR in the light of these fresh pieces of evidence. However, their lawyer refused to act in their name. Thus, you must give them time to find a new lawyer for themselves.
I am asking you to examine the situation in depth. Please consider that your final decision may lead to irrevocable results. I hope that you will avoid extraditing these two men and show them Slovakian hospitality by granting them refugee status.
A member of Istanbul (Turkey) Bar Association with registration number 36839