Uzbek Assault on UNHCR

by Nathan Hamm on 8/23/2005 · 7 comments

RFE/RL reports that Uzbekistan is attacking the UNHCR, accusing it of protecting criminals and harming the reputation of the UN. Thanks to UzA, you can read the actual statement.

By protecting terrorists and criminals at the time of the global fight against world terrorism, the UNHCR makes a great harm to the international authority of the UN. These actions only discredit the noble aims and goals of this authoritative international organization.

To “dismiss doubts of the world community,” the statement offers evidence that some of those claiming refugee status are in fact criminals. Only one of those mentioned appears to in fact have been convicted of a crime. Others are accused of crimes.

I am far from an expert on the processing of refugees, and I find it entirely plausible that some of those seeking asylum are criminals. But I do know that the opinions of the Uzbek General Prosecutor aside, the UNHCR and Kyrgyzstan are doing no wrong by giving all of those seeking asylum the right to have their cases heard.

I don’t remember ever hearing it honestly suggested that deferring to Uzbekistan’s wishes is part and parcel with fighting terrorism. And the strength with which Uzbekistan’s government is demanding the return of refugees–which is doing absolutely nothing to calm anyone’s worries about their possible treatment–is again revealing that post-Andijon Uzbekistan is not even pretending to have a commitment to due process or other liberal reforms.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Jen Rose August 25, 2005 at 12:03 pm

The UNHCR response as posted by IRIN:
“We are absolutely not in the business of protecting criminals or terrorists as was claimed by the Uzbek prosecutor [general],” said Rupert Colville, a spokesman for UNHCR, speaking from Geneva on Wednesday.

“Under international refugee law, people guilty of serious crimes are explicitly excluded from refugee status,” Colville added.

“The problem at the moment is that the Uzbek government is alleging serious crimes by some of the people who fled [from Andijan] but they haven’t produced any evidence. If refugees or asylum seekers around the world were simply sent back on the basis of allegations made by their country of origin, then there would be no refugee system globally. If there is some very serious evidence against anyone, then we obviously would like to see it and we told the Uzbek authorities that,” Colville said.

Nathan, might also be interesting to note that the U.S. has offered to resettle all of the refugees in Romania, the UNHCR is looking for a more “international” resettlement plan and hasn’t determined where the Uzbek refugees will be resettled.

Nathan August 25, 2005 at 12:23 pm

We offered to take them all? I heard (from NSC through Debbie) that there’s a pretty big need for Uzbek speakers to go over to Romania right now.

Jen Rose August 26, 2005 at 6:13 am

Here’s the official line:
Although the U.S. has offered to take as many as UNHCR can refer, UNHCR wants resettlement of this population to be an international effort…

Nathan August 26, 2005 at 9:36 am

Any particular reason for that or is it just the UN’s regular fetishism?

Brian September 13, 2005 at 8:45 am

I would think it would be better for the refugees themselves if they weren’t broken in to too many seperate groups.

brejen November 13, 2005 at 9:53 pm

what about the Uzbek citizens already in the US and seeking for asylum? Will this mass ressettlement result in the denial of our applications? Hope not/

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