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Amnesty Denounces CIS-Wide 'Renditions Program'

In a new report, Amnesty International says law-enforcement agencies in Central Asia's republics, Russia, and Ukraine are "colluding in the abduction, disappearance, unlawful transfer, and torture of wanted individuals."

The report, published July 3, is titled "Return to Torture: Extradition, Forcible Returns and Removals to Central Asia."

"Amnesty International is deeply concerned that former Soviet Union states are cooperating in the unlawful, illegal return of wanted individuals across states in the former Soviet Union where they face a very real risk of torture and ill-treatment," John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia program director at Amnesty International, told RFE/RL from London.

The new report highlights the ease with which Central Asian States are able to secure the return of wanted individuals from other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) members.

Amnesty International reports that the regular use of such methods amounts to a "region-wide renditions program."

Dalhuisen said that for the most part the renditions concern suspects who are wanted in connection with activities related to extremist, often Islamic, groups and whose extradition is requested by one CIS member state from another.

The report says the handovers of suspects are sometimes obstructed, for example, by the European Court of Human Rights. But it adds that "cynical subversions of international law" are then employed to secure the transfer.

"Where there are -- particularly in Russia and in some instances in Ukraine -- where there have been European Court of Human Rights rulings preventing the return of those individuals, those individuals are released from custody, promptly abducted by the security forces of, particularly, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and reappear a few weeks later in custody in those countries amidst very credible reports of torture," Dalhuisen said.

Dalhuisen also said that different states have different roles in the CIS-wide renditions program.

"The requesting states are overwhelmingly Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. They frequently request individuals who have sought refuge in Russia and Kazakhstan. So, the offending returners are, for the most part, Russia, sometimes Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. And the offending torturers are Uzbekistan and Tajikistan," he said.

Dalhuisen said the publication of the report is intended to raise international awareness of what the authors call a "post-Soviet rendition program that's taking place under the very nose of the international community, and no one is saying anything about it."
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