OSCE Permanent Council No. 595
EU Statement on the Deportation of Uzbek refugees from Ukraine
- The European Union is disturbed by reports that on 14 February, following a brisk legal process, Ukraine deported to Uzbekistan 10 refugees sought by the Uzbek Prosecutors Office in connection with the Andijan events.
- The EU underlines the crucial role of adherence to international human rights commitments - in this case the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture and the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights - as a basis for partnership. The EU is concerned that these deportations may have constituted a violation of Ukraine's international obligations under those conventions, in particular the principle of non-refoulement. We would like to recall that the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture affirmed in February 2003, after a visit to Uzbekistan that “torture or similar ill-treatment is systematic” in this country.
- The EU notes the statements issued by the Chairman-in-Office and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, as well as the 20 February reply from the Ukrainian Permanent Representative to the Chairman of Permanent Council. We would be grateful if the Ukrainian delegation would keep us informed of the outcome of the additional investigations referred to in that letter.
- We urge Ukraine to seek assurances from the Uzbek authorities for the safety of those returned. The EU also urges Ukraine to allow UNHCR access to the files of those deported, in accordance with Article 35 of the 1951 Refugee Convention and Article 2 of its 1967 protocol. We would welcome reassurances from Ukraine that it would take measures to prevent such incidents from happening again in the future. Similarly, we request Uzbekistan to provide information to the EU and UNHCR as to the current whereabouts and the fate of these men.
- In the same context, the EU again urges Kyrgyzstan, a party to the 1984 Convention against Torture, not to return the Uzbek refugees on its territory to Uzbekistan.
- Finally, the EU calls on the Uzbek authorities to treat all returned refugees in line with international human rights standards and shall continue to pay close attention to all such cases.
The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro align themselves with this declaration.
*Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process