ECtHR - Fozil Nazarov v Russia (no. 74759/13)[Article 3], 11 December 2014

Monday, January 12, 2015

The judgment concerns a national from Uzbekistan, currently in Russia, who had been accused by the Uzbek government of criminal offences relating to prohibited religious activities in Uzbekistan. Upon notification of these charges to the Russian authorities, the applicant was arrested and subsequently charged with a violation of immigration rules in Russia. An administrative removal to Uzbekistan was later ordered.

Notwithstanding that the applicant had applied for refugee status, the administrative removal order was upheld on appeal. According to the court, the applicant had not immediately applied for refugee status after his arrival in Russia and allegations about the risk of ill-treatment or persecution had not been substantiated. The applicant’s refugee status was later rejected and a temporary asylum application has been lodged which is still ongoing.

In response to the Russian government submissions the European Court of Human Rights held that in line with its constant approach, there are no exceptions to Article 3, it is broader than that provided for in Articles 32 and 33 of the Geneva Convention and thus it is not possible “to weigh the risk of ill‑treatment against the reasons put forward for the expulsion”[37] i.e. that the applicant had not sought asylum immediately after his arrival in a host country. Moreover, with regards to evidence adducing a risk of ill-treatment, the Court noted that “there is a persistent and serious issue as regards the ill-treatment of detainees in Uzbekistan ‒ with the practice of torture against those in police custody being described as “systematic” and “indiscriminate” [34].

In addition and in light of the applicant’s supposed involvement with prohibited religious organisations, the Court held, referring to previous case law (Nizamov and Others v. Russia and Ermakov v. Russia), that there is an increased risk of ill-treatment for these persons and their expulsion would give rise to a violation of Article 3. The Court went on to submit that the applicant had presented evidence which demonstrated “a high likelihood that he would be ill-treated” [38] and thus surmised that the applicant’s forcible return to Uzbekistan would expose him to a real risk of an Article 3 violation. Removal would, therefore, breach that provision. 

9 January 2015                                 

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