Russia: continued detention of gay journalist is 'disgraceful'

Ali Feruz is an openly gay journalist which places him at great risk if forced back to Uzbekistan © Ivan Kondratenko

Deportation of Uzbek journalist Ali Feruz blocked by court yesterday, but reporter remains in detention

Allegations of beating in detention ignored by Moscow court 

Responding to a Russian court ruling yesterday to suspend the deportation to Uzbekistan of the openly-gay journalist Khudoberdi Nurmatov - better known under his reporting name, Ali Feruz - but to keep him in detention while his case is reviewed by the European Court of Human Rights, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director, said:

“The suspension of Ali Feruz’s deportation to Uzbekistan - where he faces a real risk of persecution and torture, and homosexuality is a crime - is a positive step. 

“However, his continued detention despite his claims he has been beaten is disgraceful. He has committed absolutely no crime and it could take months or even years before a final decision by the European Court of Human Rights.

“Ali Feruz complained that security officials beat him during transfer to the detention centre and showed bruises during his court hearing. The judge decided to ignore these shocking allegations.

“The Russian authorities must immediately release Ali Feruz. They must ensure his physical safety and effective protection from forcible return to Uzbekistan.”

Amnesty has said that Feruz’s gay status, his involvement in human rights activism and his work for the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper is a “near-lethal combination” for someone about to be handed over to Uzbekistan, where “sodomy” is a crime and torture is endemic.

Court ruling reverses earlier decision

During a hearing yesterday, Moscow City Court reversed an earlier judgment to forcibly return Feruz from Russia to Uzbekistan. However, the court ruled he must remain in detention pending a review of his case by the European Court of Human Rights. Amnesty has pointed out that immigration-related detention should always be used only as a last resort, for the shortest time possible and only when necessary and proportionate to the objective of preventing absconding, to verify identity or ensure compliance with a deportation order.

Feruz was originally detained by the Russian authorities on 1 August.
 

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