ECtHR refers Russian case on extradition of ethnic minorities to Grand Chamber
The Grand Chamber panel of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has decided to accept a referral made to it of T.K. and S.R. v. Russia (application nos. 28492/15 and 49975/15). The case concerns the decision of Russian authorities to extradite two Kyrgyz nationals living in Russia to Kyrgyzstan, where they are to be prosecuted, and the applicants’ allegation that such extradition would put them at risk of ill-treatment because they belong to the Uzbek ethnic minority, who have been persecuted by the authorities since inter-ethnic clashes in 2010.
In final decisions that it made in 2015, the Russian courts found that the general human rights situation in Kyrgyzstan did not as such preclude extradition. Furthermore, they found that both applicants had been charged with common crimes that were unrelated to ethnic or political issues. The applicants then lodged an application before the ECtHR, which granted an interim measure and ordered the stay of extradition proceedings.
On 19 November 2019, the ECtHR handed down its Chamber judgment on the case, in which it found that the prohibition of ill-treatment in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) would not be violated if the applicants were extradited to Kyrgyzstan. The Chamber found in particular that the Russian courts had given the applicants’ allegations careful consideration and that their reasons for dismissing them had been reasonable. According to the Chamber, neither the general situation in Kyrgyzstan, nor the fact that the applicants belonged to the Uzbek ethnic minority put them at real risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 ECHR. Moreover, the Chamber considered that, in light of recent international reports, they no longer constituted a vulnerable group at risk of ill-treatment solely in connection with their ethnic origin. However, the ECtHR indicated that Russia ought not to remove the applicants to Kyrgyzstan until the Chamber judgment had become final or until a further order is delivered.
For more information, see the ECtHR’s press release.