“We Were Instructed To Deport Syrians And Ukrainians From The Country”

Moscow Regional Court employees admitted having been instructed to send refugees back to their homelands.

Moscow Regional Court refused to address the complaint against the decision of Noginsky City Court to deport two Syrian orphan brothers seeking asylum in Russia filed by a lawyer with the Civic Assistance Committee.

The Syrians were accused of violating the Russian stay regulations (Article 18.8 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation) and were assigned a fine of 5000 rubles and refoulement to Syria.

According to their lawyer, the judge somewhat apologetically elaborated on the refusal to settle the claim saying that earlier in July the Supreme Court sent out guidelines which included deportation of refugees from both Syria and Eastern Ukraine.

Still, in compliance with International and Russian law, a person applying for refugee status or temporary asylum cannot be expelled to the country that poses threat to same person.

On May 23, 2018 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a statement of
the Information and Press Department which described “a serious tension rising in Donbass” and “the ongoing deterioration of situation in the conflict area of South-Eastern Ukraine”.

The international society also talked of the severe state of Syria and the continuous military actions numerous times. As such, in November 2017 UNHCR published International Protection Considerations with regard to people fleeing the Syrian Arab Republic”. This report says that “UNHCR is urging countries not to apply forced departure to Syrian citizens and other persons who previously resided in Syria…”. The Syrians fled their country to escape from war, they have no relatives left in their homeland. The brothers fear that going back would mean enforced military service in the Syrian army. According to the UNHCR Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status, draft-evasion from the type of military action condemned by the international community as contrary to “basic rules of human conduct” could serve as grounds for claiming refugee status.

In 2016 the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic reported severe violations of human rights and international humanitarian law during the war and stressed that crimes against humanity were still being committed, including those by government forces.  

Meanwhile, the European Court of Human Rights-ECHR stood up for the brothers and applied Rule 39 of the Rules of Court to both Syrians. This interim measure implies that a state is prohibited from taking actions that could lead to harm to life or health of the applicant. This way, the decision of the Moscow Regional Court to dismiss the claim and later deport the Syrians back home could end in, among other things, violation of Article 2 (Right to life) and Article 3 (Prohibition of torture) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, among other things.

For the moment, the brothers are staying at the Center for Temporary Detention of Foreign
Nationals, as ruled by the court, until the judgement is executed and they are expelled from the Russian Federation.

Photo: Wikimedia, Syrian city of Aleppo in 2016

Translated by Elena Fedyushkina