The Luberetsky City Court stood up again for a Syrian refugee in Russia. The authorities’ attempts to carry out expulsion of the migrant were found unlawful. In particular, the Court held that there was no violation of law in Amiri Haytham’s actions and ordered to dismiss the administrative case against him. The Syrian had been charged with violation of the Russian sojourn rules (Part 3.1 of Article 18.8 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation), namely staying in the Russian Federation without a valid visa. He could have faced a 5000 Russian Rubles fine and expulsion to Syria.
In reality, as soon as his visa expired, Amiri filed a request for temporary asylum with a migration authority in Moscow, but the request was refused. At the time when he was trying to appeal this refusal order in court, Amiri met his Russian wife and had a son. The Moscow Court did not take these circumstances into consideration and upheld the refusal of the temporary asylum request. Then the family moves to Moscow Oblast and Amiri turned to the Moscow Oblast migration authority to file an application for temporary asylum. At the time, the judgment of the Moscow Court had not yet taken effect, which meant that the Syrian’s stay in the country was absolutely legal. However, the regional migration authority immediately concluded that Amiri was an offender and gave him away to the nearby Kotelnicheskoye police department. There a case was quickly opened against the Syrian: violation of the sojourn rules of the Russian Federation. The fact that this conclusion was erroneous was disregarded.
Amiri’s lawyer Philip Shishov, who cooperates with Civic Assistance Committee, points out that very often migration officials give away migrants to police instead of simply admitting their requests for refugee status or temporary asylum. Police then charges those migrants with a fine or opens expulsion proceedings. “The reason why this happens is that the people who come to seek asylum in Russia are often staying in the country with an expired visa or without due registration. Yet it is not the task of a migration authority to control whether the stay of migrants in the country is lawful, but to examine whether those people can obtain asylum in Russia. Migration officials evade their direct responsibilities and just call the police instead. This practice is so long-standing that now it doesn’t even matter if one’s visa is actually expired: people are “prescribed” expulsion right away, as it happened in Amiri’s case,” explains the lawyer.
After the Luberetsky City Court held that opening a case against Amiri had been unjustified, the Syrian went to the Main Directorate for Migration Affairs (GUVM) for Moscow Oblast to apply for asylum once more. And even though this time the police was not called, his papers were refused again. Regional migration authority claimed that it was necessary to first exhaust all the remedies in Moscow, and only then proceed in Moscow Oblast.
“There is no legal basis for such a requirement. In fact, they are pushing Amiri to become illegal immigrant in Russia. Senior authority in this case is the Moscow City Court and if the Syrian’s request for asylum is declined there, he will become an offender of the Russian sojourn rules on the day when the Moscow City Court pronounces the judgment. It is stated clearly in the Administrative Court Proceedings Code of The Russian Federation that a judgment of an appellate court becomes enforceable right in the courtroom,” – clarifies Philip Shishov.
It is worth noting that besides all the above, expulsion of Amiri from Russian constitutes violation of the Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which lays down the right of every person to respect for his private and family life, which encompasses possibility to stay in the same country as one’s relatives. If Amiri leaves for Syria with his family, not only will he endanger his own life, but also the lives of the citizens of the Russian Federation: those of his wife and his little son.
To recap, earlier some judgments of the Luberetsky City Court quoted reports of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees which stated that the situation in Syria had not changed significantly and that the return of the refugees to their home country was “life-threatening.”
In the near future Amiri is going to file a lawsuit against the unlawful actions of the migration authority.
By Daria Manina, Civic Assistance Committee