Refugee Denied Access to Refugee Status Application

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Rights activists who accompanied the girl were accused of trying to “legalize all across-the-board”.

Refugee Denied Access to Refugee Status Application

Civic Assistance Committee employees are appalled by the conduct of the officers of the Administration for Migration Issues in Moscow (Kirpichnaya street 32 bld 1).

Mikhail Kushpel, lawyer for the Migration and Law network of Memorial Human Rights Centre, and Natalya Prokofieva, the Committee’s migration issues adviser, came to the Administration together with the underage Nana K. The girl fled to Russia from Guinea, saving herself from marrying her cousin as the parents insisted. According to WHO (World Health Organization), child marriages in the country have a share of up to 63%. According to the 2012 ICRF report,  52% of Guinean girls get married before they turn 18. When Nana was to be given in marriage, she was only 16 and her future husband – 30 years old. After being raped by her fiancé the girl escaped to stay with her uncle for a year. In 12 months he helped Nana go to Russia.

The girl had no one to rely on in Moscow, she didn’t know what she needed to do, how to get asylum. When she learned about the ‘Civic Assistance” she turned to the Committee for help. The Committee employees decided to place her in the Altufievo rehabilitation center, help her apply for refugee status and move her to a temporary settlement once she turned 18.

Nana went to apply for the refugee status accompanied by Natalya Prokofieva, the Committee’s migration issues adviser, lawyer Mikhail Kushpel and Anna Sarkisyan, employee of the Altufievo rehabilitation center and underage Nana’s official representative. At 10 a.m. they were all in room 105. While in Moscow Nana lost her passport so she only had its copy with her. In room 105 Nana and the activists met the employee who registered visitors. She didn’t introduce herself. “When she learned that the applicant only had a copy of her passport she threw a tantrum, accused us of attempting to legalize each and everyone, told us to leave… We vainly tried to object and explain that the girl had lost her passport, that the official representative of the center where she lived was present with us” – says Natalya Prokofieva.

According to Order of the Federal Migration Service d/d August 19, 2013 N 352 «On approval of Administrative regulations of the Federal Migration Service for providing the state service on examination of the requests for refugee status recognition in the Russian Federation and applications for temporary asylum in the Russian Federation», “there are no grounds for refusal to consider the application for temporary asylum in Russian Federation”. Still the mention of this Order had  a drastically different effect, the woman threw another fit and starting screaming: Police! Call the police! They started writing a rude behavior statement against us (Nana and me) claiming we allegedly said that the Administration for Migration Issues owed us something (we were expecting the law to be complied with, nothing more). The absurdity of the situation reached its peak when police officers suggested that we follow them to the police station and draw up a protocol” – says Natalya.

“The visit turnout made it clear to us that access to the procedure in the Refugee Department on Kirpichnaya street is even more difficult to get, almost impossible. Inadequate attitude of the employees involving police on any occasion and the police officers’ (who stay on duty by the entrance) conduct towards applicants and accompanying persons all create an environment where it’s impossible for regular people to apply for asylum” – stresses the migration issues adviser for Civic Assistance.

The Committee members will be preparing a complaint against the MIA officers in the nearest future and filing a suit for not granting the Guinean citizen access to the asylum procedure.

Photo by Polina Rukavichkina

Translation by Elena Fedyushkina

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