Human Rights Watch Warns Against Extradition of Tajik Activist from Greece

Greece should not extradite, deport or otherwise facilitate the return of a Tajik opposition activist to Tajikistan; where he faces possible torture or ill-treatment, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

Mirzorakhim Kuzov; a senior leader of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), was detained on October 9, 2017 by Greek police at passport control in Athens International Airport as he was in transit after attending a human rights conference in Warsaw, Poland.

The Tajik government banned the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan; the country’s leading opposition party, and designated it a terrorist organization in September 2015.

Kuzov was detained in Athens under an Interpol “red notice” submitted by Tajik authorities on the basis of politically motivated extremism charges brought in retaliation for his peaceful political opposition.

The Tajik government has previously abused the Interpol notice system to target several peaceful political activists, including Muhiddin Kabiri, the party leader.

“It is no secret that Tajikistan has a serious problem with torture and is actively hunting down political opposition figures using Interpol ‘red notices,’” said Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Greece has a legal obligation not to return anyone to a country where they could face torture or ill-treatment and should abide by those international commitments,” he added.

HRW says that, as a party to the Convention against Torture and the European Convention of Human Rights, Greece is obliged to ensure that it does not forcibly send anyone to a place where they face a real risk of persecution, torture, or other inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment.