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Friday 26 April 2013

Postscript: Boston and the media fail on asylum seekers

Dead ChechensCitation needed in a mass grave.
Dead Chechens in a mass grave. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the beginning of the week I wrote about how the media was failing in associating asylum seekers, which the Boston bombers' family were, and immigration, which works in a completely different way. This is especially relevant distinction for the media to make because the terrorist attack has been associated with the proposed reform of the American immigration system by those opposed to any reform.

Checking my email I noticed several recent bits of information which underline just how different asylum is to immigration as well as one reason why Chechens would be granted asylum.

Via Ecre:
Chechen refugee threatened with assassination in the UK

British Intelligence Agency MI5 and the UK Home Secretary, Theresa May, are involved in a legal battle to deport a Russian suspect, known as E1, who is allegedly involved in a conspiracy to murder Akhmed Zakayev, the exiled Prime Minister of the unrecognized secessionist government of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.

Zakayev is a British-based Chechen separatist who came to the UK in 2002 and received asylum a year later. MI5 issued a warning to the judges stating thatRamzan Kadyrov, the Chechen president, “who had been responsible for the assassination of a number of his opponents, has a blacklist of individuals, some of whom he wished to have assassinated, and […] Akhmed Zakayev, a refugee living in the UK, was believed to be on this list." Kadyrov’s spokesperson denied any allegations.

E1 has been based in the UK since 2003 and was granted indefinite leave to remain. His wife and six children were granted asylum and are now British citizens. The UK Home Secretary wants to deport E1 and labeled him as a “danger to national security”, but despite the public nature of the case and the MI5 warnings, his appeal to remain in the UK was eventually granted.

This case illustrates thefear and insecurity felt by many Chechen refugees living in Europe. A large number of refugees from Chechnya have serious concerns for their personal safety and refer to operations of supporters of Kadyrov, the so-called “Kadyrovtsy”, in Europe. A number of Kadyrov’s political opponents have been killed in Dubai, Istanbul, Moscow, London and Vienna. Moreover, according to the UK Home Office the suspect, E1, is known to have “played a significant role” in the murder of Umar Israilov, who escaped to Poland in 2004 and received asylum in Austria in 2007. Israilov filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in 2006 and was a key witness of the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) complaint against Kadyrov. In 2008, Israilov noticed that he was being watched and requested protection, which was refused. In 2009 Israilov was shot dead in broad daylight in Vienna.
Via John O:
Removal of Chechen from Austria to Russia would Violate Article 3

In today's Chamber judgment in the case of I.K. v. Austria (application no. 2964/12), which is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously: that there would be a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights if Mr K. was removed to Russia.

The case concerned the complaint by a Russian national of Chechen origin that his removal from Austria to Russia would expose him to the risk of ill-treatment, as his family had been persecuted in Chechnya.

The Court held in particular that there was no indication that Mr K. would be at a lesser risk of persecution upon return to Russia than his mother, who had been granted asylum in Austria, the Austrian courts having found her account convincing. Furthermore, there were recent reports documenting the practice of collective punishment of relatives and suspected supporters of alleged insurgents.
Via Ecre:
CPT: Torture in detention and impunity for perpetrators persist in the North Caucasus

For the first time since 2003, the Russian authorities have authorised the publication of a report by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) on the findings from its visit to the North-Caucasus region.

The CPT reports grave concerns over the lack of progress made since its first visit to the region over a decade ago. The Committee collected evidence of the use of torture and ill-treatment in detention centres in all three republics visited, Dagestan, Chechnya and North Ossetia-Alania, and of high rates of impunity for perpetrators.

The report concludes that public officials, investigators and judges do not take the necessary action when they are made aware of potential cases of abuse. In the majority of cases, investigations into allegations of torture are dropped after a preliminary enquiry. When criminal proceedings are initiated, the accused is usually charged with lesser offenses than torture, such as abuse of power.

The Committee noted that despite general cooperation on the part of Russian officials, several displayed an attitude of denial, refusing to acknowledge the possibility of instances of torture. Instances were also recorded of intimidation of detainees by authorities, and the provision of inaccurate information.

The CPT has reiterated recommendations including ensuring access to legal and medical care to detainees.
The report, based on a visit in April and May 2011, has been published in tandem with the response of the Russian government.

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, has welcomed Russia’s authorisation of the publication of the report, and expressed hope that this openness will continue.
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