ECtHR - Eshonkulov v. Russia (no. 68900/13) [Article 3, 5 para 1(f), 5 para 4, 6 para 2], 15 January 2015

Monday, January 19, 2015

The facts of the case relate to an Uzbek national who had been detained in Russia on two separate yet subsequent accounts. The first, following an extradition request lodged by the Uzbek authorities on account of alleged participation in extremist organisations,  the second following an administrative expulsion decision pursuant to a breach of domestic immigration law. A concurrent set of proceedings were then initiated by the applicant, the first relating to an appeal against his extradition and a second on his asylum application and a subsequent appeal. On both accounts the Russian authorities rejected the appeals surmising that the applicant did not face a real risk of ill-treatment [27].

The Court firstly noted, in line with previous case law, that individuals, whose extradition has been sought by Uzbek authorities on charges of religious or political crimes, constitute a vulnerable group and run a real risk of inhumane treatment [35]. Secondly, and with regards to the authority’s duty to adequately assess the applicant’s claim of ill-treatment, the Court held that there had been no attempt to evaluate the risks of an Article 3 breach in the eventuality of extradition, administration expulsion, or in the in the asylum proceedings [39-43]. Lastly, the Court examined international reports, evidencing systematic and indiscriminate ill-treatment of detainees in Uzbekistan [45] noting that alleged membership of extreme religious groups would mean an increased risk of ill-treatment if returned[46]. The Court consequently found a violation of Article 3 if the applicant were sent back.

As to the applicant’s following submissions the Court surmised that the applicant did not have access to judicial review procedures by which to challenge the lawfulness of his detention and thus found a breach of Article 5 para 4 [60]. With regards to Article 5 para 1(f) the Court noted that detention cannot be lawful if its “outer purpose differs from the real one” [65] and that it must be carried out in good faith [65].  Yet, on the present facts the Court found plausible that the real purpose of the expulsion proceedings was to keep the applicant in detention pending extradition, in light of the maximum time-limit for extradition detention in domestic legislation[65]. Moreover, given that detention with a view to expulsion should not be punitive and that Russian legislation does not provide judicial review of detention pending expulsion the Court consequently found a breach of 5 para 1 (f) [69].

Finally, the Court found a violation of Article 6 para 2 on account of the extradition decision’s wording which “amounted to a declaration of the applicant’s guilt, prejudging the assessment of the facts by the Uzbekistani courts”  [75].                       

16 January 2015                                 

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Assessment of facts and circumstances
Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Real risk
Right to remain pending a decision (Suspensive effect)
Vulnerable person