Appeal of Norwegian Helsinki Committee
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee appealed to Ministry of Justice of Slovakia on regarding the extradition of two Chechen asylum seekers, Anzor Chentiev and Ali Ibragimov, from Slovakia to Russia.
Here is the appeal:
NORWEGIAN HELSINKI COMMITTEE
DEN NORSKE HELSINGFORSKOMITE
To: Ms. Lucie Zhitnianska
Minister of Justice of the Republic of Slovakia
Mr. Dick Marty
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council Of Europe (PACE)
Mrs. Heidi Hautala
Chair Of the Subcommittee of the European Parliament
Mr. Thomas Hammerberg
Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe
Mrs. Svetlana Gannushkina
Leader of the Civil Assistance Committee,
Board Member of HRC Memorial
October 27, 2010
Regarding the extradition of two asylum seekers from Slovakia to Russia.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHCI) seeks to defend and promote human rights in the geoeraphical region covered by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). NHC is involved in immigration-and asylum cases and issues based on our knowledge of particular countries and regions and due to our general human rights mandate.
We have followed with interest the domestic and European legal process following an extradition request by the Russian Federation concerning two Russian nationals of Chechen ethnic origin, Mr. Anzor Chadidovich Chentiev and Mr Ali Nurdinovich Ibragimov, to Slovakia. With regard to both cases, the Slovak courts eventually found that the request from Russia was admissible and that the two asylum seekers could be returned. The decisions were appealed to the European Court Of Human Rights.
In a recent decision. the Court found the complaints lodged by the two men inadmisible, pointing out that Russia had given diplomatic assurances that the men would not be subjected to ill-treatment and would be guaranteed a fair hearing, if returned to Russia. The court further noted that there was a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in place in Russia, and that the applicants would have the right to address the Court again, it their rights under the European Convention were infringed upon return to Russia.
However, even after the Court’s decision. Slovakia still has the possibility of looking at the case again, and we would strongly caution Slovak justice authorities against extraditing the two men to Russia. The Court’s decision appears to go against the body of case law from the Court’s so-called Chechen cases, which detail grave, widespread and systematic violations of articles 2, 3, 6 and 11 of the Convention, dealing with the right to life, freedom from torture and ill-treatment, violations of the right to a fair hearing and access to a legal remedy.
Moreover, the weight given to an indictment from the Russian Prosecutor’s Office based on testimony from an individual who has later credibly complained that he made his statement under torture, seems to contradict the Court’s efforts to abolish torture and ill-treatment within the member states of the Council of Europe. In this regard we ask Slovakia to consider the case of the seven Russian citizens released from Guantanamo in 2004, after the United States had diplomatic assurances from Russia. In a report from March 2007, Human Rights Watch documents that all seven were later ill-treated or tortured upon their return to Russia.
Given the gravity of the situation in the North Caucasus, described in inter alia the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s resolution 1738 (2010) as “the most serious and most delicate situation from the standpoint of safeguarding human rights and upholding the rule of law, in the entire geographical area covered by the Council of Europe”, we are afraid that the ex-post facto right to address the Court in case of a violation, is not an appropriate guarantee or safe-guard. This is a region where enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions remain a serious problem.
We would further like to mention that an extradition request from the Russian Federation concerning a Russian asylum seeker of Chechen ethnic origin, who had applied for asylum in Norway, was rejected by the Oslo Appeals Court on 26 August 2009. Similar extradition requests from Russia in connection to the conflict in the Caucasus have in recent years also been turned down by Sweden and several other European states. To our knowledge the only case where an extradition request has been met by a European state is the Spanish case on the extradition of Gasayev. The latter extradition, which was strongly criticized by human rights monitors, had a number of specific features that distinguishes it from the current Slovak case.
Although there may be instances of extradition requests that merit serious attention, in general we would caution against complying with extradition requests from the Russian Federation concerning individuals connected to the North Caucasus conflicts until Russia has shown willingness to properly execute the European Court decisions in the so-called Chechen cases. We would like to remind you of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly’s report “Allegations of politically motivated abuses of the criminal justice system in the Council of Europe member states”, from August 2009, which calls for “a series of reforms … in order to combat ‘legal nihilism’ in the Russian Federation, as a precondition also for successful co-operation between Russian and other European law enforcement authorities”.