On 29 April 2022, the Grand Chamber gave its judgment in the case of Khasanov and Rakhmanov v. Russia. The case concerned two Kyrgyz nationals who were charged in absentia of crimes relating to the 2010 violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, while living in Russia. Both applicants complained that due to their Uzbek ethnicity, they risked persecution and ill-treatment if extradited to Kyrgyzstan.
In its analysis, the Court firstly clarified that in a case regarding an extradition, Contracting States have an obligation to both cooperate in international criminal matters and to respect the absolute nature of the prohibition under Article 3 of the Convention, and so claims of ill-treatment must be subject to the same level of scrutiny regardless of the legal reasons for the removal. It continued that this assessment should focus on the foreseeable consequences of the applicant’s removal in light of both the general situation there and their personal circumstances. Regarding the general situation for ethnic Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan, the Court noted that although the ethnic clashes in 2010 resulted in a heightened risk of ill-treatment for ethnic Uzbeks, recent reports no longer suggested that this was the case. It elaborated that although concerns remain regarding the insufficient action by Kyrgyz authorities to prevent torture and ill-treatment, the available international material does not show that the general situation has deteriorated in such a way as to preclude all removals and extraditions to Kyrgyzstan. It thus determined that there was no basis for concluding that ethnic Uzbeks constituted a group who are still systematically exposed to ill-treatment.
The Court then turned to the examination of the personal circumstances of the applicants and their claims that the charges brought against them were related to their ethnicity. In regards to the first applicant who was charged with aggravated misappropriation, the Court considered that no solid evidence had been presented in support of the ethnic bias underlying him and that the charges against him were sufficiently detailed. It therefore held that as none of the first applicant’s assertions were supported by evidence or reached beyond the level of speculation, an existence of a real, individual risk of ill-treatment could not be reliably demonstrated. The second applicant according to the Court had failed to substantiate similar assertions or to reasonably account for his repeated travel to and from Kyrgyzstan after June 2010. The Court therefore considered that the Russian courts had engaged with their Convention obligations by carefully and appropriately examining the existence of the individual risks capable of preventing the applicant’s extradition. It thereby concluded that the applicants had failed to demonstrate the existence of ulterior political or ethnic motives behind their charges or further special distinguishing features which would expose them to a real risk of ill-treatment and that therefore the applicants’ rights under Article 3 would not be violated in the event of their extradition to Kyrgyzstan.