UN agency asks Ukraine to free detained former prime minister of Tajikistan

Photo: IRIN

20 March 2013 – The United Nations refugee agency said today it is deeply concerned about the continued detention and possible extradition of the former prime minister of Tajikistan, Abdoumalik Abdoulladjanov, a recognized refugee who was arrested in Ukraine.

“Since Mr. Abdoulladjanov’s return to his country of origin would violate both international and domestic law, his continued detention for extradition purposes lacks a legitimate purpose,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a press release.

A district court in Kiev ruled on 15 March that Mr. Abdoulladjanov can be detained for up to 12 months, pending a decision on his extradition to Tajikistan.

The former Tajik prime minister was arrested at Kiev’s Boryspil International Airport on 5 February on an international warrant after travelling from the United States.

He is accused by Tajik authorities of involvement in a 1996 assassination attempt on his former political challenger and current President, Emomali Rahmon.

UNHCR urged Ukraine – a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention relating to the status of refugees and the 1967 protocol – to act in accordance with international law and release Mr. Abdoulladjanov out of respect for his refugee status.

It also reiterated the importance of the principle of non-refoulement, by which no State party to the Convention “shall expel or return (‘refouler’) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

Refoulement is a violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, as well as prohibited under the national laws of Ukraine.

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