Deportation of a minority citizen. Improving human rights and the Strasbourg case law change and approach.
T.K. and S.R. v. Russia 19.11.2019 (no. 28492/15 and 49975/15)
The case concerned the applicants’ allegation that they risked ill-treatment if extradited to Kyrgyzstan because they belonged to the
Uzbek ethnic minority, who have been persecuted by the authorities since inter-ethnic clashes in 2010.
The European Court of Human Rights held, by five votes to two, that there would be:
no violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the
European Convention on Human Rights if the applicants were extradited to Kyrgyzstan.
The Court found in particular that the Russian courts had given the applicants’ allegations careful
consideration and that their reasons for dismissing them had been reasonable. In particular, the
courts had looked at the general human rights’ situation in Kyrgyzstan, the applicants’ individual
circumstances and assurances provided by the Kyrgyz authorities. Those assurances were, moreover,
strengthened by a joint monitoring mechanism, involving visits by Russian diplomatic staff to Kyrgyz
detention centres holding extradited persons.
The Court therefore had no grounds to doubt the Russian courts’ position, and it concluded that
neither the general situation in the country, nor the fact that the applicants belonged to the Uzbek
ethnic minority put them at real risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 if they were extradited to
Previously, in the wake of the 2010 events, the Court had considered that removal of ethnic Uzbeks
to Kyrgyzstan would violate Article 3. However, it had to assess the applicants’ situation as it stood
at present and stressed 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.
The applicants, Mr T.K. and Mr S.R., are Kyrgyz nationals. They were born in 1957 and 1986 and live
in Verkhneye Mukhanovo, Oryol Region, and Elektrogorsk, Moscow Region, respectively.
Mr T.K. arrived in Russia in 2010, while Mr S.R. arrived in 2011. They were apprehended,
respectively, in 2013 and 2014 because they were wanted in Kyrgyzstan on charges of aggravated
misappropriation (Mr T.K.) and several counts of aggravated robbery, destruction of property and
murder (Mr S.R.).
In the ensuing proceedings concerning the applicants’ extradition and their requests for refugee
status, they alleged that they were at risk of persecution and ill-treatment in Kyrgyzstan because
they belonged to a vulnerable ethnic group. The courts, prosecution and migration authorities
assessed these claims but dismissed them.
In particular, in final decisions of 2015 the 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 which were unrelated to ethnic or political issues. Moreover, Mr T.K. had been accused of a financial crime which pre-dated the 2010 clashes, and Mr S.R. had
travelled from Russia to Kyrgyzstan between 2011 and 2014 without problem.
The courts also stressed that they were in any case satisfied with the assurances provided by the
Kyrgyz authorities that the applicants would not be ill-treated and that Russian diplomatic staff
would have access to their place of detention to monitor their situation.
The applicants’ extradition was, however, stayed in June and October 2015, respectively, on the
basis of an interim measure granted by the European Court of Human Rights under Rule 39 of its
Rules of Court, which indicated to the Russian Government that they should not be removed for the
duration of the proceedings before it.
The applicants were released from detention in 2014 and 2015.