The French government must no allow the extradition of Kazakhstani banker and opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov, Amnesty International said today, shortly after a French court ruled that he should be sent to Russia or Ukraine to face fraud charges.
“Today's decision by the French court flies in the face of the realities on the ground. Russian and Ukrainian security services collaborate routinely with the security apparatus in Kazakhstan,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights.
“Not only do we have fears that Ablyazov would not get a fair trial in Russia or Ukraine, there is the real danger that he will eventually end up in Kazakhstan, where he will be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. The French authorities must not send Ablyazov to any country where he will face serious human rights violations or be forced back to Kazakhstan."
"European governments, including France, must set an example and guarantee that Ablyazov's human rights are respected and protected. Otherwise, Europe becomes deeply implicated in the on-going human rights violations that plague Central Asian republics, including Kazakhstan, where torture and ill-treatment of political opposition figures are commonplace."
Kazakhstani national Mukhtar Ablyazov, a fugitive banker, recognized refugee and key political opponent of the country’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, was apprehended by French police on 31 July during a house raid in Mouans-Sartoux, near Cannes.
A July 2013 Amnesty International report Returns to Torture: Extradition, Forcible Returns and Removals to Central Asia highlights the routine cooperation of Russia and Ukraine with Central Asian republics, including Kazakhstan, in transferring people back to Central Asia, often in violation of their human rights.