Agency Urges Kyrgyzstan to Stop Deporting Uzbecks
UN Refugee Agency Urges Kyrgyzstan to Stop Security Forces Deporting Uzbeks
New York, Jun 10 2005 1:00PM
Following the forced return of four Uzbek men who fled to Kyrgyzstan after last month's deadly crackdown in the town of Andijan, the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) today urged the Kyrgyz Government to cease all further deportations of Uzbek asylum seekers.
"This is a direct violation of an agreement UNHCR had reached with the Kyrgyz government that no one would be forcibly returned unless they had been determined not to be a refugee after going through an asylum procedure," UNHCR spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis told reporters today in Geneva.
If they are determined to be refugees, they cannot be deported, according to the terms of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, of which Kyrgyzstan is a signatory. The Uzbek authorities have alleged the men were criminals.
Another 12 men remain under arrest in the town of Jalalabad, where the four deported men had also been moved. UNHCR staff were able to gain access to the detention centre only after the first four men had been forcibly returned to Uzbekistan, the agency said.
The agency welcomed a statement made this morning by the Acting First Vice Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, Felix Kulov, who condemned the deportations and said that any officials who had acted improperly would be brought to justice.
Last weekend, agency added, it appeared that that the Kyrgyz authorities were assuring the security of the asylum seekers by moving them further from the border. However, as the week progressed, reports began to emerge asserting pressure was being put on them to return.