The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is deeply concerned about the detention of the former prime minister of Tajikistan, Abdumalik Abdullajanov.
"UNHCR is deeply concerned about the continued detention and possible refoulement of the former prime minister of Tajikistan, Abdumalik Abdullajanov, a recognized refugee arrested in Ukraine," reads a statement posted on the Web site of the UNHCR. The press release reads that the former Tajik prime minister has been recognized as a refugee by the United States and had travelled to Ukraine on a valid US-issued travel document with a Ukrainian visa. "UNHCR reiterates the importance of the principle of non-refoulement, under which no refugee can be forcibly returned to their country of origin, including by way of extradition," reads the document. Refoulement is a violation of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, to which Ukraine is a signatory, as well as a fundamental breach of international human rights law and refoulement is also prohibited under the national laws of Ukraine, reads the statement. "Since Abdullajanov's return to his country of origin would violate both international and domestic law, his continued detention for extradition purposes lacks a legitimate purpose," reads the document. UNHCR urges the Ukrainian authorities to act in accordance with international law by respecting Abdullajanov's refugee status and releasing him from detention. As reported earlier, Abdullajanov had been detained at Kyiv's Boryspil International Airport on the request of the Tajik authorities upon arriving to Kyiv from Los Angeles on February 5. The Ukrainian State Migration Service said Abdullajanov had not applied for refugee status. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reminded Kyiv that Abdullajanov had refugee status in the U.S. and therefore, in line with international law, could not be extradited to any country. The Boryspil Town Court in Kyiv region granted the prosecutor's office request on Abdullajanov's temporary arrest for 40 days on February 7. The Tajik Prosecutor General's Office forwarded documents to Kyiv substantiating Abdullajanov's extradition on February 18. Amnesty International issued a statement in early March to urge Ukraine to deny Abdullajanov's extradition, warning that he could face torture at home. On March 15, 2013, Kyiv's Shevchenkivsky District Court sanctioned arrest of former Tajik Prime Minister Abdumalik Abdullajanov before his extradition to Tajikistan is considered. The court said in its ruling that Abdullajanov will remain under arrest until a decision is made whether to extradite him to Tajikistan, but not longer than 12 months. Ukrainian law stipulates that extradition arrest does not mean that a person arrested this way would necessarily be extradited but only serves as a precautionary measure before a decision is made on whether to extradite this person or not.