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03-12-06, 03:34
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Kazakhstan Might Have Deported Chinese Asylum Seeker-UN



ALMATY, Kazakhstan (AP)--Kazakhstan might have secretly deported a Chinese asylum seeker in violation of its international commitments on refugee rights, the U.N. refugee agency said Friday.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees is extremely concerned over Arkin Yarmamat Sabirov's disappearance on Oct. 23 in the former Kazakh capital Almaty, said Cesar Dubon, the agency's representative in the Central Asian nation.

Dubon said Sabirov, an ethnic Uighur, disappeared immediately after a court in Almaty had acquitted him of unspecified charges after a four-month detention. Neither the U.N. nor his family were given access to Sabirov during his detention and were not informed about the court hearing.

"The UNHCR fears that the asylum seeker might have been deported," Dubon said, calling it "a clear violation" of the global convention on refugees.

Dubon said Sabirov's wife had requested asylum for her husband after his July arrest, but the UNHCR was denied access to him and was unable to find out why he had sought asylum.

China persecutes Muslim Uighur activists for their campaign for rights in the northwestern province of Xinjiang.

Kazakh officials were not immediately available for comment.

Dubon said the UNHCR knew of another case when Kazakh authorities secretly deported asylum seekers.

"I suspect it's a tendency," he said.

In November 2005, nine Uzbeks, including four asylum seekers, registered with the UNHCR office in Kazakhstan, disappeared in the southern Kazakh city of Shymkent and later resurfaced in Uzbek police custody.

Kazakh authorities denied any involvement in the incident, but witnesses said the men had been detained in a police raid and forcibly handed over to Uzbekistan.

Dubon on Friday criticized the Kazakh legal system for "a total lack of transparency" and the absence of laws that would outline and guarantee refugees' rights and set procedures for dealing with them.

"Each case is dealt with as authorities deem appropriate, without proper legal guidance," Dubon said.


(END) Dow Jones Newswires
12-01-060931ET
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