Rare Case: Syrian Granted Temporary Asylum in Russia

Migration Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs denied refugee status application but Luberetsky court judge issued a more humane decision.

The Luberetskiy City Court ordered the Main Directorate for Migration Affairs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to grant temporary asylum to Khadri Amer, a refugee from Syria. Such humane decisions are extremely rare in Russian judicial practice; according to the Federal State Statistics service only 1137 Syrians were granted temporary asylum in Russia for the entire year 2016.

In Syria, Amer had a big family, a house, a job. In 2013 his son, who served in the armed forces of governmental Syrian army, was killed by terrorists. Soon after that Wafa, Khadri’s wife, died. In 2015 Amer fled to Russia. A year later his house was destroyed in the bombing and his surviving children, son and three daughters, were forced to leave the country and moved to Turkey.

On September 26, 2016, Khadri Amer applied to the Main Directorate for Migration Affairs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Moscow region with a request for temporary asylum and got rejected in December. At the same time, the Ministry of Internal Affairs did not take into account the risks that the Syrian would have faced in the case of his return to his homeland and the fact that he has nowhere and no one to go back to. Despite the information about destroyed house, dead family members and those who fled from Syria, the reason for the refusal was as follows: “The applicant did not give any data that would indicate that the risk of becoming a victim of persecution is higher for him than for the rest of the country’s population.”

According to the official position on Syria, published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), “the majority of Syrian citizens, applying for international protection, most likely meet the criteria for the definition of “refugee”, cited in Art. 1A(2) of the 1951 Convention, since they will have well-founded fear of becoming a victim of persecution on one of the grounds indicated in the Convention” (1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugee).” UNHCR also notes that “only in exceptional cases asylum seekers from Syria may not meet the refugee definition criteria of the 1951 Convention, and in such cases the possibility of providing other types of international protection should be considered, including the states bound by obligations to comply with the qualification Directive.”

The general situation in the country and Amer’s personal risks in Syria, which were not taken into account when the migration authorities made a decision to deny him temporary asylum, fortunately were taken into account by Irina Golochanova, the Lyubertsy City Court judge.

“Today’s decision gives us little hope that state’s attitude towards refugees can change,” comments  Khadri Amer’s lawyer Philip Shishov, a lawyer of ‘Migration and Law’ Network of Human Rights Center Memorial. “This will allow refugees without legal status to legitimize it, acquire basic rights and begin to benefit Russia, the country that gave them shelter.”

By Natalia Oshechyk, Civic Assistance Committee