Migration Office employees explained their rejection referring to the Regulation of access to procedure and ignoring the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
Employees of the Main Directorate for Migration Affairs refused to consider the documents for refugees status of 12-year-old teenager from Central African Republic. According to them, the boy and his accompanying interpreter from the Civic Assistance Committee did not have a full package of documents for submitting the petition. In particular, the boy’s passport was not translated into Russian and the interpreter did not have the original of his certificate.
The list of documents required for filing an application for temporary asylum or refugee status can be found in the document “Administrative Regulations of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation for the provision of state service for examination of applications for recognition as a refugee in the territory of the Russian Federation and applications for temporary asylum on the territory of the Russian Federation”. And there it is really stated that all the documents in foreign languages should be translated.
But there is a document with higher status, Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, Article 31 of which says that the states that have made commitments under this Convention, will not prevent access to asylum even to those who crossed illegally the border: “The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of Article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.”
That is, the leader of the countries that ratified the Convention (Russia included) agreed that escape is conditioned by special circumstances under which it is difficult to collect a full package of documents and translate them before applying for asylum. In practice, in the Russian Federation internal rules that contradict the Convention play a crucial role.
Human rights activists are convinced that in this case it is a deliberate obstruction of access to asylum procedure. Unfortunately, in Russia the institution of asylum does not work. And it does not work effectively for a long time, but when the Federal Migration Service became the part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs there was little left of it. Now the Migration Department is the part of Citizenship Department, and these are two different legal institutions. In fact, that was a signal not to grant asylum in any form.
There is actually no sense to mention the existence of refugee status since there are only 592 people who have it, and only two Syrians among them. Only a few have temporary asylum status as well.
How this can be achieved? “The simplest thing is not to accept documents from people, picking on something. Although the law states that documents and applications must be taken from everyone, no matter in what form they are submitted. Refugees should bring what they have. It is impossible to request additional papers from them”, comments Svetlana Gannushkina, the chairman of the Civic Assistance Committee.
As for the dissatisfaction related to the absence of the original certificate of the interpreter, the above-mentioned Regulation has nothing to do with that; it only states that “the services of an interpreter are provided free of charge to the applicant at the expense of funds allocated annually from the federal budget of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation.” It is not necessary to have the original document with you.
And it is important to mention that from the beginning of 2018 till present times the Migration Department does not provide any interpreters. That is, asylum seekers who do not speak Russian are completely deprived of the opportunity to file an application. Civic Assistance Committee started to provide interpreters for their applicants to help the Department to comply with the legitimate right of foreign nationals to file an application. And now the latter regularly encounter tough and irreconcilable resistance.
“We also want to draw attention to the organization of admission to the Main Directorate for Migration Affairs in Moscow. Together with us, there was a woman in the ninth month of pregnancy from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the queue from the beginning of the admission. She was standing in the line and when she finally went into the office inspector Viktor Andrievsky ordered her to leave and wait until all the Ukrainian citizens, who were not in the queue, will visit his office. She was waiting patiently until the lunch time and admission was over. This attitude is shocking and raises many questions about the method of organization of applicants’ reception in the Department,” says Natalya Prokofieva, counselor on migration issues of the Civic Assistance Committee.
Translated by Sofia Ismailova