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Uzbek Journalist Wins Reprieve in Court

European bodies add their voices to fears for Khudoberdy Nurmatov’s life if he is deported to Uzbekistan.

8 August 2017

A court in Moscow today complied with a European Court of Human Rights order to suspend the deportation of Uzbekistani journalist Khudoberdy Nurmatov.

 

The court today ordered him to stay in a detention facility for foreigners pending hearings in the European rights court, the Associated Press reports.

 

Nurmatov
Nurmatov (pictured), who was born in Russia, was picked up by Moscow police last week while on his way to the offices of Novaya Gazeta, a leading independent paper for which he writes under the pseudonym Ali Feruz. A court decision to expel him from Russia for allegedly being in violation of immigration laws sparked an outcry, ABC News reported.

 

“It should be recalled that international law prohibits sending a person to a country where there are substantial grounds for believing that the person may be subjected to torture or ill-treatment,” Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, wrote in a Facebook post.

 

Other international bodies also condemned the decision to send the journalist to Uzbekistan, which Amnesty International’s deputy program director for Europe and Central Asia, Denis Krivosheyev, described as something close to a death sentence, ABC News says.

 

Nurmatov was allegedly tortured by Uzbekistan’s National Security Service and coerced into working as an informant before fleeing the country in 2008, according to the Associated Press.

 

Since 2011 he has covered topics related to the LGBT community, hate crimes, and the rights of migrant workers, CNN writes. As an openly gay man, he could face retribution in Uzbekistan, where homosexuality is a crime.

 

Several previous applications to remain in Russia have been rejected, according to CNN.

 

An additional complication is that he lost his Uzbek passport in 2012 and cannot receive a new one without returning there, one of his lawyers told ABC News.

 

Sources in Germany said that country is willing to grant him residency status on humanitarian grounds, Deutsche Welle reports.

 

 

  • Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Council earlier asked the authorities not to deport Nurmatov, arguing that it would contravene the constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, the Russian legal news service RAPSI reports.

 

  • Consenting sex between men in Uzbekistan is a crime punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment, according to Human Rights Watch.

 

  • Uzbekistan continues to hold thousands of political prisoners, religious believers, activists, journalists and other critics of the government, HRW says.

Compiled by Crystal Tai

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