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Uzbekistan Says UNHCR Is Protecting Criminals

Uzbek refugees being sent by the UN to Romania from Kyrgyzstan last month 23 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Tashkent accuses the United Nations' refugee agency of protecting criminals and terrorists by opposing deportations of Uzbek asylum seekers from Kyrgyzstan.

The office of Uzbekistan's chief prosecutor today said in a statement that the UNHCR "discredits" the noble goals of the international organization.

Hundreds of Uzbeks fled into Kyrgyzstan in May following an uprising and a government crackdown that one UN report described as a "mass killing."

The UNHCR has recognized most as refugees and evacuated more than 400 Uzbeks from Kyrgyzstan to Romania.

Eleven of the 15 Uzbek asylum seekers still being held at a detention facility in Kyrgyzstan have already been granted refugee status by the UNHCR.

The Uzbek prosecutor's office reiterated its call for the extradition of the other four, saying they are terrorists and drug dealers.

UN and international human rights groups have expressed concerns that the refugees could be tortured or executed if handed over to Uzbek authorities.


See also:

"More Uzbeks Appeal To UN For Protection"

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