11:53 26.04.2018

Ukraine unsafe for refugees - human rights activists

3 min read

KYIV. April 26 (Interfax-Ukraine) - Ukraine is not a safe country for refugees, as Ukrainian state bodies are increasingly refusing to provide protection for such citizens, human rights activists say.

"In the spring of 2018, just like eight years ago, just like ten years ago Ukraine is not a safe country for asylum seekers. The Ukrainian authorities do not fulfill the obligations assumed by signing and ratifying the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. In Ukraine, refugees, especially from post-Soviet states, in particular from the Russian Federation, cannot feel safe," coordinator of the No Borders project Maksym Butkevych said at a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine on Wednesday, April 25.

According to him, instead of protecting such people, "they are forcibly returned to the hands of those from whom they fled," often using Interpol for this. He explained that the issue concerned actions that are considered crimes in Russia and in Ukraine they are regarded as the realization of the right to freedom of opinion or belief.

He said that the detention and deprivation of liberty by Ukraine's state bodies through the search in Interpol or the request of the Russian Federation, without proper verification, is absurd and scandalous.

"How can you cooperate with the security forces of the aggressor state, even more so, allow leakage of information that should be strictly confidential?" Butkevych said.

He noted that the reform of the system of providing protection to refugees had not been implemented in Ukraine after the Revolution of Dignity.

"None of those who, for political reasons or instructions from above, refused to shelter people who deserved it, has not been brought to justice. None of the security forces who violated the rights of refugees over the past five to seven years, as far as we know, has not been held accountable," Butkevych said.

According to co-founder of the "Muslim Refugees" NGO 'Azan' Anvar Derkach, refugees in Ukraine find themselves in the triangle "Border Guard Service - Migration Service - Security Service." He noted that the State Migration Service had recently begun began to refuse asylum seekers in Ukraine already at the stage of filing documents.

"It is actually a matter of collusion between the law enforcement agencies of the state of Ukraine against the most unprotected category of people who seek asylum in our country. They are initially attracted with loud statements about European standards to which Ukraine aspires, including in migration policy, and then they are extradited to dictatorship regimes," Derkach said.

A representative of NGO "Human Rights Movement of Crimea," Damir Minadirov, considers absurd the fact the State Migration Service, when refusing to grant protection, refers to Russian legislation and the list of organizations banned in Russia.

"Instead of gaining security and calm after submitting documents to the State Migration Service of Ukraine, seekers of refugee status live in fear of being detained and extradited to Russia, where they are certainly expected to have their right to a fair trial violated and face long terms of imprisonment for trumped-up criminal cases, torture, and perhaps even death," Minadirov said.

Lawyer Andriy Leschenko said that the State Migration Service, instead of being an instrument of protection against repressive regimes in Russia and Central Asia, has become an effective tool of intimidation in the hands of these regimes.