Spain to extradite asylum seeker to risk of torture in Kazakhstan

News
February 19, 2014

Spain to extradite asylum seeker to risk of torture in Kazakhstan

Spain must refrain from forcibly returning Aleksandr Pavlov to Kazakhstan, Amnesty International said today, shortly after learning of the Spanish government’s decision to authorize his extradition.

“The Spanish government has decided to extradite Aleksandr Pavlov to Kazakhstan despite credible evidence that he would risk torture upon his return. If they send Aleksandr Pavlov back, they will violate Spain’s international legal obligations,” said Julia Hall, criminal justice expert at Amnesty International.

“The government must do the right thing and reverse this decision.”

Aleksandr Pavlov, a 37-year-old asylum seeker in Spain and Kazakhstani national, is currently in detention in the capital city of Madrid.

According to information received by Amnesty International from different sources, a decision authorising the extradition was taken by the Council of Ministers on 14 February. The decision has not yet been made public.

Amnesty International believes that the Kazakhstani extradition request is connected to Aleksandr Pavlov’s links with the Kazakhstani opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov, who fled Kazakhstan in 2009. Aleksandr Pavlov served as Mukhtar Ablyazov’s head of security for a number of years.

The Spanish government has claimed that the Kazakhstani government has offered “diplomatic assurances“ that Pavlov will not be ill-treated if returned to Kazakhstan.

“Assurances of humane treatment from governments that routinely torture are useless,” said Julia Hall.

“The Spanish government cannot and should not trust such empty promises from the Kazakhstani authorities, who have relentlessly pursued Aleksandr Pavlov and other associates of Mukhtar Ablyazov.”

There have been several cases against Kazakhstani political and civil society activists in which criminal prosecution in Kazakhstan has been linked to their connection with Mukhtar Ablyazov and his dissenting views.

Reports of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners continue in Kazakhstan, despite repeated government claims that it is successfully addressing the problem.

“Spain cannot simply ignore Kazakhstan’s record on torture and ill-treatment. It has a legal obligation not to return anyone to a country where he or she would be at real risk of persecution or other serious human rights violations or abuses,” said Julia Hall.

As all domestic remedies have been exhausted in Spain, the only remaining opportunity for Aleksandr Pavlov to challenge the lawfulness of the extradition is before the European Court of Human Rights.

If the European Court ordered “interim measures” this would oblige Spain to halt the extradition until the merits of Aleksandr Pavlov’s case had been considered.

“It is a disgrace that the Spanish government would even consider sending Aleksandr Pavlov back,” said Julia Hall.

“The only legal and humane course of action now is for the government to reconsider and acknowledge that Aleksandr Pavolv would be at considerable risk of harm in Kazakhstan.”