UN expert team condemns Italy deportation of Kasakh national Alma Shalbayeva

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Alma Shalabayeva's passport
Alma Shalabayeva’s passport from Kazakhstan. Image: J!

(WNN) United Nations, Geneva, SWITZERLAND, WESTERN EUROPE: Three United Nations experts on the rights of migrants have stepped in to work with Italian authorities to facilitate the swift return to safety of deported Kazakh national Ms. Alma Shalabayeva in what has been described as a case of extraordinary rendition (criminal deportation) that is outside the law. As a wife of former Kazakhstan political prisoner Mukhtar Ablyazov, Alma and her six year old daughter were forced with cooperation of Italian authorities to return to Kazakhstan regardless of the dangers she and her daughter would face once they arrived.

“My wife and child were forcibly pushed into a private chartered plane and sent to Kazakhstan,” said Ablyazov in a public statement following the swift and forced deportation of his wife and daughter.

Without due process or regard to the possibility of imprisonment, torture and threat to life once they were back inside Kazakhstan, the deportation order for Alma Shalabayeva and her daughter has been considered a base denial of human rights.

But why was she deported so quickly when Shalabayeva was not permitted to seek the assistance of lawyers or an interpreter?

“We climbed up into the airplane. A flight attendant met us and she said “Hello” in Russian. I understood that this was an ariplane that the Kazakhs had brought in. Even the pilots did not aks for any document. Nobody was asking us anything. We were flying out without documents. Practically speaking, they had simply abducted us,” said Alma in a written account of her and her daughter’s May abduction allegedly created as an official statement for the record on June 22, 2013.

“The circumstances of the deportation give rise to the appearance that this was in fact an extraordinary rendition which is of great concern to us,” said a joint statement made by high level UN experts Gabriela Knaul, François Crépeau and Juan E. Méndez.

As a Special Rapporteur for the UN, Knaul monitors violations of human rights within the global justice system. UN Special Rapporteur Crépeau is focused primarily on the rights of foreigners in the machine of migration. And Juan E. Méndez is the present UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment who has a dedicated life standing up for social justice as a former Special Advisor to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

The couple’s life has not been an easy one. Shalabayeva’s husband was granted political asylum in the United Kingdom in 2011 but fled with his family to Italy after UK police warned him his life was in imminent danger. Alma and her daughter were considered legal residents in the European Union while living in Italy when they were, as other news media describes, ‘deceptively’ deported on 31 May of this year.

Shrouded in dubious internal politics that have included accusations of bank takeovers, corruption and misuse of power, Kazakh President Nusultan Nazarbayev is no friend to Alma’s husband Mukhtar Ablyazov, who was an outspoken political opponent of the Post-Soviet era President. Ablyazov himself is currently facing money embezzlement charges inside Kazakhstan, which he vehemently denies and describes as a frame-up.

“Respectively…the actions of the Italian authorities had violated guarantees of due process and deprived Ms. Shalabayeva of her right to appeal against deportation and to apply for asylum,” outlined the UN News Centre. “The authorities also appeared to have ignored concerns that Ms. Shalabayeva might be at risk of being persecuted, tortured or subjected to other forms of ill-treatment upon her forcible return to Kazakhstan due to her husband’s political activities,” continued the UN News Centre.

Investigations on the exact motive and source of the deportation, which may be pointing to officials inside Kazahkstan, is forthcoming. Italy has formally admitted now that they were in error with the deportation and will work fully to help bring Alma and her daughter back to Italy.

“We appreciate the Italian authorities’ commitment to carry out thorough investigations on the case and welcome the developments thus far,” said the Special Rapporteurs. “We urge both Italy and Kazakhstan to continue to investigate and hold those responsible accountable,” the expert group continued.


At a July 13, 2012 meeting at the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, an announcement of Italy’s ‘unlawful’ deportation of Alma Shalabayeva was made formally during a session discussing ‘Western Countries in Need of Human Rights Advice’. This video is a production of UNWatch, Geneva.


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